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Group: Walgreens Pharmacies Are Compromising Security Of Patient Information

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(CBS) – Walgreens is under attack and facing accusations from a labor-backed consumer group that it could be exposing customers’ private medical information with its new pharmacy consulting desks.

The setup is offered in stores in 30 states. CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talks to the group, which has provided undercover video that customers in Illinois may have been victims.

Thursday afternoon, the pharmacist at the Walgreens in Oak Park staffs the new consultation desk at the drug store.

But Change to Win is releasing video alleging that sometimes the desk is empty. It claims photos show information about customers’ prescriptions and medicine is left unattended.

“Imagine that your neighbor could walk in and see your personal information sitting on a desk in the pharmacy waiting area, and that’s what part of the danger with this new model is,” Nell Geiser says.

The group says it made 52 visits to Walgreen stores in a six-month period in Illinois, Indiana and Arizona and found privacy violations at 19 out of 26 stores.

Most customers Tucker interviewed had not experienced any problems, but others worried about their medical information being exposed.

Walgreens officials insist the company is protecting customers’ information. Before introducing the pharmacy desks, they said, “We worked closely with each state Board of Pharmacy to review the model.”

Counters Geiser: “We would like them to modify their privacy practices to ensure that these patient health records are never left unattended.”

More staff is what the labor-backed group wants. The U.S. Department of Health and Services Office for Civil Rights is investigating the group’s claims.

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