Florida Appeals Court Overturns Lower Court Order for Pharmacy to Disclose HIV Patient Names, Addresses
The 3rd District Court of Appeals in Miami on Wednesday overturned a lower court ruling requiring a doctor to disclose to a drug wholesaler the names and addresses of patients who receive HIV medication through his pharmacy, the Associated Press reports. Dr. Mark Sachs and his pharmacy, Immunecare, were sued by the wholesaler Innovative Healthcare Inc., which alleged that the pharmacy did not pay its bill "in full." The wholesaler wanted the names of patients to find "more information" about Sachs and his pharmacy. While Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Chavies ordered Sachs to release the patient information, the appeals court found that Florida laws on patient privacy and HIV confidentiality prohibit such a disclosure. The three-judge panel wrote in its ruling, "The only way to protect the confidentiality of the patients is to protect their identities. ... The trial court ignored the essential requirements of the law." Sachs' attorney, Donna Weston, who estimated that 80% of Sachs' patients are HIV-positive, said, "This opinion really stands for the proposition that patients' names by their nature are privileged" (Associated Press, 11/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.