Indiana AG lands 12 complaints from CVS, Walgreens trash hauling

Legal News Line Sep. 20, 2007, 9:23am

Steve Carter

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter appears to have learned from his Texas counterpart the benefits of dumpster-diving. Carter filed complaints Aug. 31 with the Indiana Pharmacy Board against 14 Indianapolis-area pharmacies and 14 individual pharmacists for failing to protect sensitive patient medical information. Carter alleges the stores cited threw documents holding Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare details into their backyard dumpsters. Not protecting patient information is a violation of federal HIPAA laws, Carter's complaints state. Half of Carter's Aug. 31 complaints are against stores owned by pharmacy-retail giant CVS Caremark, while rival Walgreens copped five and two went to independent operators. The two giants both claim to operate the country's largest retail pharmacy chain. The disposals in question were revealed 14 months ago by local television station WTHR's 13 Investigates program over a two-month period. The program recently posted the addresses of all pharmacies and names of all pharmacists mentioned in Carter's follow-up complaints. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has already sued a CVS store near San Antonio for the same alleged violation, LNL reported in April. Abbott's bin-bombing investigators found copies of documents with customers' medical and financial information in a dumpster behind a CVS store in suburban Liberty. One of Carter's Indianapolis complaints, against a Walgreens on E. 38th St., cites a Channel 13 reporter revealing documents in trash bags. "Pharmacy staff carelessly included private health information with general trash rather than destroy this protected properly safeguard patients' privacy," the complaint stated. Abbott has filed suit against at least five other retail businesses in Texas this year for tossing sensitive customer information into backyard bins, LNL reported in May. Big-name catches for the AG's dumpster-divers include check casher Check-n-Go, electronics retailer RadioShack and pawnbroker EZPAWN. That shows the Lone Star State has "much more aggressive consumer protection laws than Indiana," a recent 13 Investigates report stated. Abbott brought his actions within days of receiving a public complaint whereas Carter's office took more than a year, the report added.

More News