CAMP HILL, PA (September 28, 2010) – To celebrate American Pharmacists Month, this October Rite Aid is asking patients to vote for their Favorite Pharmacist by sharing stories of extraordinary service and telling what makes their pharmacist special. The program, now in its seventh year, was designed to honor Rite Aid pharmacists for their commitment to patient care and service.
Well now don't those words from a Rite Aid press release just warm your heart.....makes me all warm and fuzzy that statement right from the corporate PR office does. It really seems important to them to let us know of their commitment to patient care.
“Our pharmacists provide outstanding patient care every day, whether they’re counseling patients on medications, administering immunizations or helping them manage a new or difficult disease."
I'm sorry......I'm just.....choking up a little here. I mean, reading of Rite Aid's outstanding patient care, in words that were written by Rite Aid itself, it just....takes me to that Rockwellian world of community, of caring, of people at their best and smiling pharmacists found on APhA magazine covers. What a wonderful feeling.......
Patients must be really important to Rite Aid.
"Additionally, because we must determine whether an individual who obtains pharmacy records from a pharmacy is a "patient" and whether the pharmacy is a "health care provider" ...
Those words came from lawyers, who are nothing like pharmacists. They are mean and nasty and would not hesitate to turn on one of their clients if the money was right. Leave it to the lawyers to harsh on Rite Aid's mellow. Just like the words above say, they drug Rite Aid into court to decide whether the people it serves are "patients" or "customers," a whole legal case turned on this definition, and Rite Aid fought like hell.......
....to make sure they were known as "customers." I am not making this up. The company poured its time and resources into making sure that it was crystal clear that the people who every day come in contact with its pharmacists ARE NOT patients.
Which kinda makes that press release of theirs smell a lot like bullshit.
The case was David M. Landay and Patberg Carmondy & Ging v. Rite Aid, and it all started when someone at Rite Aid got the bright idea that they should charge a $50 dollar fee for reproducing pharmacy records. Some lawyer types, however, saw this in Pennsylvania law...
(1) A patient or his designee, including his attorney, shall have the right of access to his medical charts and records and to obtain photocopies of the same, without the use of a subpoena duces tecum, for his own use. A health care provider or facility shall not charge a patient or his designee, including his attorney, a fee in excess of the amounts set forth in section 6152(a)(2)(i)
...caught the scent of class-action money and got their lawsuit on. In the opening round of trial action, Rite Aid employed a very complex and nuanced legal defense, which when one cuts through all the legalese, can be summed up something like this:
"THEY'RE NOT PATIENTS!!!!! THEY'RE CUSTOMERS!! THE LAW SAYS YOU CAN ONLY LIMIT FEES ON PATIENTS SEEKING TO ACCESS THEIR MEDICAL RECORDS!!! THEREFORE WE CAN CHARGE THEM WHATEVER WE WANT!!!!
But um..... if they were patients, we would be committed to providing outstanding patient care."
The original trial court agreed, stating, and again I'm paraphrasing here,
"Rite Aid, you are correct. Your forceful and unwavering arguments have convinced us that people using your pharmacies are never to be called patients. After all, who would know the pharmacy business better than a corporation that runs 4700 drugstores? Customers they are, and never shall they be referred to patients again!!"
"Yay!" said Rite Aid.
"This isn't over." said the lawyers on the other side. "if it's the last thing we do, we, members of the most despised and loathsome profession in society, will ensure that people who utilize pharmacy services shall be referred to patients, in order to correctly reflect the realities of 21st century healthcare."
"You're wrong" said Rite Aid. "We have never seen a patient come into a single one of our stores. But if that day ever comes, we will be very committed to their care and service"
An appeals court then looked over both side's arguments and decided Rite Aid was wrong. A court of law declared on March 23 that as far as it was concerned, pharmacy patrons were to be defined as patients, putting an end to Rite Aid's two year struggle, at what I'd bet was a rather sizable expense, to make sure the people it serves were never.....ever....to be referred to as "patients"
In case you're missing this, it was the lawyers who fought to implement the modern vision of pharmacy, over the strenuous objections of one of the county's largest pharmacy operators.
Which means I was wrong. I've actually decided... I'm pretty much the right amount of cynical after all.
A big thank you to the alert reader who tipped me to the story.