Hundreds of patient records found in pharmacy dumpster

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Bob Segall/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - Drug stores are not supposed to put your personal health information into open dumpsters. But 13 Investigates has shown it happening at pharmacy after pharmacy as drug stores all across Indianapolis failed our recent test.

Store workers admit if even one patient record gets into the trash, that's one too many. But what we discovered in just one trash bag this week surprised even us. It didn't contain just one patient record - it had 732 of them. That's right - 732 patient records on labels, receipts, prescriptions, order forms and pill bottles, all in one garbage bag behind one pharmacy.

That store is Tucker Pharmacy on the city's southeast side. The drugstore tossed out information that some customers would not want us to know about. For example, Jose takes medication for athlete's foot. James has a prescription to deal with his constipation. Lily's lotion is for scabies. And Donald takes pills for schizophrenia.

Other customers say all of that is far too personal to be left out in the trash.

We found Virginia Smedley and her husband through a prescription left behind by Tucker. We got Virginia's name, address, phone number, and date of birth from the trash dumpster and we also know what type of medication she is taking.

"I didn't think it was down here on the south side," she said when we told her what we found.

"We didn't know it was happening to us," said her husband, Harold. "They're violating our trust, you might say."

How did this happen? We're told there's a massive shredder inside the pharmacy. Why wasn't all this shredded or destroyed to protect patient privacy?

The store's owner, Skip Tucker, had this to say: "How this could happen is beyond my comprehension. It's an oversight... and I am shocked. I never thought you'd find something like that at my pharmacy. It is not a defendable thing. It never should have happened and I can promise you it won't (happen) again."

Channel 13 is making arrangements to destroy all of the information in that Tucker trash bag, as well as all the other sensitive data we found in our test of 65 metro area pharmacies.

To find out how your neighborhood pharmacy did in our test, click here for an interactive map.

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