man speaking with caption 'How CVS violated my HIPAA rights' (l) CVS store with sign and sky (c) man speaking with caption ''insane' is a discriminatory term according to the National Center on Disability and Journalism' (r)

BCFC/Shutterstock @dorktoast/TikTok (Licensed)

‘She handed the police my entire prescription list’: Customer claims CVS called the police on him, violated HIPAA

'She told the police that I was erratic and I was causing a scene.'


Allyson Waller


Posted on Jan 19, 2023   Updated on Jan 19, 2023, 10:46 am CST

A TikToker is revealing in close detail a recent encounter he had at a CVS Pharmacy location where he claims a pharmacist called him “insane” and reported him to police after he attempted to get his prescribed medication. 

TikTok user Sam Swicegood (@dorktoast) recounts the matter in a nearly three-minute video that’s been viewed more than 470,000 times. 

He says about a month ago he went to CVS to pick up his medication, describing it as the kind of medication “where it’s kind of dangerous if you stop taking it suddenly.” 

“The pharmacist was super rude about it, which is one thing,” Swicegood says. “But then she decided to say ‘well you’re just insane.’” 

@dorktoast My story about CVS. this is not okay. #mentalhealth #hipaa #storytime ♬ original sound – DorkToast

In his video, Swicegood points out how unprofessional he thought it was for the pharmacist to use the word “insane” and says he inquired about a contact for their supervisor. While on the phone with the 1-800 number at the CVS location, the pharmacist allegedly called the police on him. The pharmacist then proceeded to tell police “that I was erratic and I was causing a scene and all kinds of other things,” Swicegood says. 

He then reveals that when the police arrived, the pharmacist shared with them a list of Swicegood’s prescriptions. 

“To be clear, she handed the police my entire prescription list, which is protected health information the police did not have a warrant for,” Swicegood says. “I was then trespassed from the store.” 

Swicegood says he later contacted the district manager of the store and they came to a resolution that the whole ordeal was a misunderstanding. However, when he went back to try to get his medication, he says he was again told he was trespassing and an employee threatened to call the police. Swicegood claims the district manager told him that employees’ reason for reporting him to police was because he had a “threatening posture.” 

“I’m a very large man with a high pitched voice and mobility issues, I don’t think I could have a threatening posture if I tried,” he says in the clip. 

In the video, he went on to call out CVS, urging them to implement better practices. 

“Part of what’s particularly frustrating is the district manager flat out told me, ‘What am I supposed to do? There’s a shortage of pharmacists,’” Swicegood says. “Like the fact that there’s a shortage of pharmacists doesn’t mean that they’re not held to incredibly high ethical standards. CVS, do better.” 

In his video, Swicegood claims the store “violated his HIPAA rights,” or the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. According to the New York Times, one aspect of HIPAA, known as “the privacy rule,” makes it illegal for certain entities that store and manage health data to “share a patient’s medical records without the patient’s explicit consent.” 

CVS has not responded to The Daily Dot’s request for comment. The pharmacy’s website lists a “notice of privacy practices,” and states there are instances where they may use or share a customer’s “protected health information.” Instances they give include: to help provide treatment, to obtain payment, or to carry out health care operations. They also mention they may share information with law enforcement officials “as permitted or required by law.” 

“For example, we may share your PHI to report certain injuries or to report criminal conduct that happens on our premises,” CVS states. “Also, we may share it in response to a court order, subpoena, warrant or similar written request from law enforcement.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are various instances when an entity is permitted to reveal protected health information to law enforcement. In one example, the agency states the information can be reported to law enforcement when a victim of a “covered entity,” such as a health care provider, is making a report about a “suspected perpetrator of a crime.” 

Commenters on Swicegood’s video pointed to how unethical it seemed for a pharmacist to insult him and report him to law enforcement. 

“This is a good example of the stigma around medications,” one commenter said. “If you have even one slightly controlled medication on your list people go buck [wild].” 

“There is no misunderstanding that makes this okay— please file a lawsuit,” another person said. 

Others alleged they’ve been in similar situations and urged Swicegood to file a complaint or report to the appropriate pharmacist licensing board. 

“My HIPAA rights were violated at Walgreens, and I made a complaint in writing and haven’t seen that pharmacist there since,” a commenter revealed. 

The Daily Dot has reached out to Swicegood via TikTok comment and Instagram direct message.

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*First Published: Jan 19, 2023, 10:45 am CST