Archive for Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pharmacy records recovered from downtown trash bin

Records of customers’ prescription purchases were thrown away in a trash bin along Eighth Street during renovations to the former Round Corner Pharmacy building, 801 Mass. Tom Wilcox, owner of the former pharmacy, later worked to secure the documents Thursday.

Records of customers’ prescription purchases were thrown away in a trash bin along Eighth Street during renovations to the former Round Corner Pharmacy building, 801 Mass. Tom Wilcox, owner of the former pharmacy, later worked to secure the documents Thursday.

October 29, 2009

Editor's note: withheld publication of this story for two hours to allow Wilcox to collect the improperly disposed of documents.


Customer drug records found in trash

Drug records from customers of the former Round Corner Pharmacy were found in a downtown dumpster Thursday evening. The records contained personal information but were disposed of promptly and properly. Enlarge video

The owner of the former Round Corner Pharmacy was scrambling Thursday night to recover hundreds of detailed customer records that had been thrown away during the building’s renovations.

Tom Wilcox was notified Thursday evening that a desk drawer filled with prescription records from 2007 had been overturned in a roll-off trash container along the sidewalk outside 801 Mass.

The records — bundled into small stacks, each secured with rubber bands — had been sitting atop other trash in the bin, aside a paperback Webster’s Dictionary, an open box of coffee stirrers and a variety of plastic shelves, cardboard boxes and other discarded materials.

Each record included a customer’s name, address, drug and dosage.

Contacted at home and informed that the records were exposed and at least partially visible from the street, Wilcox said he’d be at the site in 10 minutes to recover and secure the paperwork.

Wilcox said that he was required by law to retain pharmacy records for five years and that despite meticulous efforts to remove all sensitive documents from the building — “they went all the way back to 1894” — some records obviously had been missed.

“They’re cleaning out in the basement,” Wilcox said. “There may have been some that we didn’t see.”

Wilcox closed Round Corner in July and sold the building to a partnership led by Doug Compton, president of First Management Inc.

First Management is renovating the building, where a new Fuego restaurant is scheduled to open in February.

Bob Sarna, First Management’s director of commercial and special projects, said that his employees had waited for Wilcox’s people to clear all necessary materials out before starting their own removal operations.

“It was all cleared out, according to protocol,” Sarna said. “They said, ‘We’re all clear; go ahead and take the rest of it.’ ”

Philip Kimball, 68, was among the Round Corner customers whose records were tossed away. When contacted Thursday evening, Kimball, a fiction writer, said that he would have preferred that the records remained secure.

Not that it really matters, he said. Kimball said he figures that anyone who really wants to find out his personal information could do so otherwise; just a few weeks ago he’d learned that someone in Boston fraudulently charged $800 on one of his credit cards.

“In general, you don’t like people to know things about you, but I’m not concerned that it’ll hurt anyone,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to blackmail someone for taking amoxicillin.”


George_Braziller 8 years, 2 months ago

The records could have just been bundled up and delivered to Tom so that he could have taken care of of it. Guess Mr. "Weekly World News" Fagan had to make a big story of it.

Why is Fagan still there?

Phil Minkin 8 years, 2 months ago

They threw away a perfectly good box of coffee stirrers? Stop the presses.

Tim Quest 8 years, 2 months ago

Only an idiot barking LJW commenter would seriously posit that it's the Journal-World's responsibility to collect the records and properly dispose of them. Nice job, George_Braziller.

mdrndgtl 8 years, 2 months ago

Thank you for securing the records Tom. If you have a second, I'd like to speak with you about my going problem. Or maybe it's really a growing problem? Your call...

bearded_gnome 8 years, 2 months ago

Tom was always a wonderful caring pharmacist.

he didn't need this jolt.

hang in there Tom, and be sure to really enjoy your retirement!

Keith 8 years, 2 months ago

Why didn't they burn those records?

begin60 8 years, 2 months ago

Really responsible=ups my faith in the locals by several hundred percent--like we didn't know already how incompetent and unaware people around here are. Always knew too how much Lawrence people value and respect privacy. Serious error=not good.

RKLOG 8 years, 2 months ago

Just in case someone doesn't know:

Round Corner was the longest running drug store in Lawrence and it was sad to see it go away.

It looks like mistakes were resolved quickly by all involved.

Evan Ridenour 8 years, 2 months ago

You guys have to remember that all of Compton's employees are illegal emigrants who don't know better. They probably thought that those medical records were sandwich recipes... cough

Brent Garner 8 years, 2 months ago

Wiithout question this was an unintentional error. However, having said that, there is a very high probability that this incident violates the Privacy Act as well as HIPAA just to name two laws that are involved here. Violations under each are potentially actionable in court. I am uncertain if there are criminal sanctions under either law. Regardless, Mr. Wilcox is now exposed to potential legal action under either statute. I hope he has a very good lawyer.

conservative 8 years, 2 months ago

Definately should not have happened. However once it did happen and was noticed the only responsible thing to do was to call the person who is ultimately responsible for the records. Not for the workers on the construction crew or the journalist to be picking up the records or deciding how to handle them.

Zeus 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, it was a mistake. No big deal. The bigger mistake that led to going out of business was thinking they could continue doing business against conglomos with doing any kind of advertising to give me a reason to go there.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 2 months ago

Pathetic article by the LJW.

And an even more pathetic self-serving "Editors Note" preceding the article.

labmonkey 8 years, 2 months ago

I think I see several perscriptions for Merrill's Adderol in that picture. I'm suprised we don't have several cut-n-pastes on this thread yet.

bangaranggerg 8 years, 2 months ago

I think the real news here is that anyone had actually used Round Corner Drug for their prescription.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 2 months ago

I disagree with most of these posts. It IS news, and I think it was awefully decent of Fagan to give him a chance to take care of business before running the article.

Old-school business people have been caught off guard by changes such as HIPAA. They have to seek out their own training on how to implement policies and procedures, and stuff like this happens. I used to work for a major lender. One of our branches was doing some cleaning out, and some incompetent put boxes and boxes of old loan applications in a dumpster. The news somehow found out, and it was a mess to clean up (from a PR standpoint).

somedude20 8 years, 2 months ago

barrypenders (Anonymous) says… "This is no problem. The Poser will soon have all the information on all our medical records, as well as the decisions concerning the amount and kind of health care you receive, so this little snafu is just no big deal"

Wrong bubba, your boy George (the Bushy) Bush already got that info and a lot more.

OzChicklet 8 years, 2 months ago

Why would anyone cleaning out the place throw that type of information into the trash bin in the first place?

luv2raft 8 years, 2 months ago

Keith: if you read the article, you'll see that Wilcox didn't burn the records because he's required by law to keep them for 5 years.

9070811 8 years, 2 months ago

thank luv2craft for answering Keith's question. Mel.... shredder.. in 2012.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

there's a little thingy called HIPPA that one would venture to think would prevent these things from happening. oh well... i'm glad i never dealt w/ that pharmacy.

i worked for a pharmacy for several months (this was less than 2 years ago) and i remember those old farts coming in for their cialis and viagra prescriptions... man i bet they'd shudder to know their E.D. is part of pubic-- er, i mean public-- record, in the back alley dumpster.

mistygreen 8 years, 2 months ago

For those of you that are saying it's no big deal, it is a big deal. Put yourself in the shoes of those patients whose prescription information was briefly made public. How would you feel having someone go through the trash and finding out some of your most intimate secrets? Health information is private and this is more than a little mistake.

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 2 months ago

HIPAA violation

you could burn 5 years in prison for that.

ohjayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

I would think it would be a big deal if someone hooked on prescription pain meds got access to these records and made up a list of houses to hit over the weekend. Makes their job a lot easier.

Jeteras 8 years, 2 months ago

what a better way to let people know these are important records,, hey,, lets post it in the newspaper. Are we not just about 2 buildings away from being Comptonville? Not hard to find the missing records,, look for one of the guys that peddles mass street with papers sticking all out of his jacket,, geeez

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 2 months ago

The records also had the names and the addresses and probably phone numbers. I would think that people clearing out a pharmacy would look carefully at everything they toss in the dumpster. If these records are to be kept for five years does that mean that they should have been forwarded to the new pharmacy chosen by their old clients?

mfagan 8 years, 2 months ago

Just following up on Irish's question and comments... It is my understanding that the Round Corner folks have a secure storage unit to handle the records from the past five years. The active records went to Walgreens; the records that were in the trash were from two years ago, and have since been recovered. The records I saw didn't have phone numbers. The documents had the customer's name, address, and prescription to be filled. Stapled to each sheet, it appeared, was the original written prescription, plus another sheet that didn't appear to have any other personal information. *** As for folks clearing out the pharmacy: The folks at First Management say they checked with the Round Corner people to be sure that all the appropriate records had been taken out of the building; the rest of the material was to be discarded.

Mark Fagan Reporter

Bassetlover 8 years, 2 months ago

OMG, someone might discover that I filled a prescription there 10 years ago for some prednisone to stop my poison ivy!!!!!! What a huge invasion of my privacy.....NOT!!! Seriously people, this is much ado about nothing! Give Tom a break and let him get on and enjoy his life. There are bigger fish to fry out there.

wendyaxlund 8 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bassetlover 8 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Wendy, but comments like yours is what taints and destroy reputations. Obviously, you don't know Tom at all. He has served this community honorably for countless years and what happened was a unintentional mistake with no malice. For you to call him irresponsible is just that....irreponsible. The trust and respect all his customers have given Tom over the years remains intact. For someone to discover that he filled a prednisone prescription for me years ago.....big damn deal. So what if my name/address appears on those records? You'll find my same info in the phone book.

wendyaxlund 8 years, 2 months ago

@bassetlover, I regret that you felt that I placed blame on Tom. Obviously, Tom would have to be a honorable man to sustain a respected place in the Lawrence community and I am not questioning or challenging that fact. I did not indicate, nor did the LJW article indicate that Tom was the individual who acted irresponsibly and that the incident was driven by malice. The point that I was trying to drive home that accidents/incidents like this can happen to anyone and there are always good people that are hurt in the fallout, even if they were not directly involved in the act. That, truly is the shame in all of this.

George_Braziller 8 years, 2 months ago

You missed the point. If someone (anyone) had just called Tom he would have been there in a second.

Never said it was the Journal-World's responsibility to collect the records. Fagan and the J-W just had to blow it up into a huge story that it isn't.

FarneyMac (Anonymous) says… Only an idiot barking LJW commenter would seriously posit that it's the Journal-World's responsibility to collect the records and properly dispose of them. Nice job, George_Braziller.

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