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Q: Our prescriptions from Gateway Pharmacy were transferred to Walgreens without our knowledge or consent after Gateway closed. How can personal health information be shared without our written consent? Without my written consent, my wife cannot see my health info, but someone being able to sell that same info to a complete stranger seems illegal. How is this not a violation of the HIPAA laws?

D.D.

Answer: According to Jay Campbell, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, “HIPAA does not prohibit the sharing of (personal health information) among treating professionals, which would include pharmacies.”

Gateway Pharmacy, on Pineview Drive in Kernersville, closed in late May and sent letters out to its customers.

Board of Pharmacy rules state that when a pharmacy is to be closed permanently, the pharmacist-manager must “if possible” provide “notice of the closing ... to the public by posted notice at the pharmacy at least 30 days prior to the closing date and 15 days after the closing date. Such notice shall notify the public that prescription files may be transferred to a pharmacy of the patient’s or customer’s choice during the 30-day period prior to the closing date. During the 30-day period prior to the closing date, the pharmacist-manager and the pharmacy’s owner (if the owner is other than the pharmacist-manager), shall transfer prescription files to another pharmacy chosen by the patient or customer, upon request.”

According to Campbell, “The purpose of this rule is, of course, so that patients are not blindsided by a pharmacy closure and have adequate opportunity to transfer their prescriptions to their pharmacy of choice.”

He said that board staff received a few complaints about the Gateway Pharmacy closure. The complaints allege that sufficient notice wasn’t given. They are investigating the complaints. Any patient with a complaint is encouraged to submit it to the Board of Pharmacy at complaints.ncbop.org/Complaint/begin.aspx.

“And any patient who experiences unreasonable delay in getting prescriptions transferred from the Walgreens to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice is strongly encouraged to report that to the Board of Pharmacy,” he said.

Q: My auto registration was due to expire at the end of May. On May 28, I had the vehicle inspected and then renewed the registration online, but I’m not sure how long it will take to receive my new sticker. Can I be pulled over and/or ticketed for an expired plate?

W.M.

Answer: There’s a chance you could get pulled over, but you won’t be ticketed, said John Brockwell, communications officer for the DMV. “The law enforcement officer would have an indication after he runs the tag, which would indicate the person has renewed his or her registration,” Brockwell said.

Thanks

Susan Rudd, a World War II veteran who will turn 101 in June, wrote in to thank the young couple who paid for dinner for herself, her daughter and a friend at Zoe’s restaurant after Sunday school recently after hearing her story while they were waiting to be seated. SAM would also like to thank her for her service as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps from 1942-45.

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Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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