After the high-profile scandal of eavesdropping on patients in pharmacies, the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector reacted and reached an agreement with the Personal Data Protection Office. What does this mean for patients?
The high-profile case of disclosure of wiretapping in one of the pharmacy chains touched both patients and pharmacists themselves. The case was revealed by “Puls Farmacji” – cameras and microphones were supposed to record conversations of employees, also with customers at the counters – employees were supposed to sign consents to this, but customers were not informed about it. Violations are dealt with by the Ombudsman and the Supreme Pharmaceutical Council. Now the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector has signed an agreement with the president of the Personal Data Protection Office. Purpose: disclosing and eliminating violations of the law related to the processing of personal data of patients and pharmacy employees.
Patient data in pharmacies – GIF focuses on cooperation and education
“The initiative to cooperate with GIF and the Personal Data Protection Office in order to clarify the issue of potential recording practices of patients and pharmacists in pharmacies was taken by Mrs. Ewa Krajewska, as the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector. Regardless of the written correspondence between both authorities, on November 13, 2023, a meeting was held at the headquarters of the Personal Data Protection Office, which culminated in today’s signing of an agreement, which de facto concerns broadly understood cooperation between the GIF and the Personal Data Protection Office, while maintaining the competences of both authorities,” he said. in the statement Marcin Wójtowicz, general director of GIF. He added that the cooperation will also focus on educating entrepreneurs running pharmacies regarding the nature and importance of the data they process.
More irregularities in pharmacies
In turn, Jakub Groszkowski, deputy president of the Office of Personal Data Protection, emphasized that the disclosed wiretaps are not the only irregularities related to the protection of personal data that pharmacies have to deal with. “And considering that special category data is processed there, i.e. data about patients’ health, they require special protection and care. Therefore, it is extremely important in such places to create conditions enabling an adequate response to ensure an appropriate level of data security and prevent breaches,” he said.
As part of the cooperation, GIF and UODO also want to organize joint meetings related to violations of the processing of personal data of patients and pharmacy employees. As both institutions assure, this is to put patient data under better control.