We received a call from a customer the other day. The lady was asking about one of the compounds. She explained that she was upset with her doctor.

You see, he wrote a prescription for her for one of the expensive drugs that are commonly ordered for MS sufferers. The lady told the doctor that she probably would not have it filled. It was expensive and she feared the side effects. The doctor seemed to listen but still wrote the prescription – just in case she changed her mind.

Our caller left the doctor and decided again that she was not going to have the prescription filled. She thought that was the end of it.

Surprise! Within just a few days she began to receive mail – and even gifts – from the company that makes the drug. Her doctor must have somehow let the drug company know that he had ordered their drug for his patient. The lady was not expecting this. It bothered her and I can see why. It seems unprofessional – and possibly a violation of the privacy laws – for a doctor to share confidential patient information with someone outside, particularly the marketing department of the company that makes the drug.

What do you think about this? How would you feel if your doctor betrayed your privacy? How would you feel knowing that the people in a drug company’s marketing department knew you had a certain disease or condition? To compound the indignity the marketing department also knows your address – and possibly more.

I think this story is shameful. This action is but one symptom of a health system that’s broken – because I’m not convinced that this one doctor acts any differently than most of the rest.

Doctors ought to protect the privacy of their patients, not share their information with people at a drug company.

I could understand if the patient volunteered to be part of a study, but that isn’t the case in this situation. I can understand the doctor sharing with other doctors, a nurse, or a pharmacist because those professionals are intimately involved with the care of the patient. Each of these professionals, then, is bound to honor the patient’s privacy. In case this doctor is merely ignorant, he needs some education. If he actually knows about privacy and chose to ignore it (for whatever “reason”) then I think someone has a right to be upset – maybe even upset enough to seek legal damages.

There’s something to learn from this story… Whenever your doctor writes a prescription for you there is a chance that your private health information will be shared with someone outside your doctor’s office.