The messenger logo

Pharmacist – patient confidentiality threatened

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, January 18
A 31-year-old pregnant woman died of a viral infection in the Kutaisi Intervention Medical Centre on January 17. Doctors had thought she had been infected with H1N1 flu, but the laboratory analysis did not confirm their diagnosis. Doctor Khatuna Geladze proved that the patient was given all the necessary medicines but the visit to doctor had been too late as a result of her difficult health conditions.

While the annual figure of seasonal flu has exceeded the average, the Ministry of Health has denied there is any serious pandemic threat and stressed that the country has plenty of medicine for combating the virus infections. “There are particular risk groups like small children, pregnant women, etc. which are usually less protected from viruses so we are recommending that they are very careful and visit doctors immediately upon noticing any symptoms of the flu,” Nata Avaliani from the Disease Control Centre told the media adding that seasonal vaccinations, hygienic masks and other protective measures would decrease the chances of catching a cold.

On the same day NGOs sent a statement to international organisations opposing compulsory video controls at pharmacies. Healthcare Expert Club members chaired by Tinatin Turdzeladze spoke of the “unprecedented case within world medical practice.” According to order no.397 released on December 7, 2010 by Sandro Urushadze the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MOH) chemist shops in Tbilisi should be equipped with video surveillance systems both within the shop and outside. The order will come into force from February 1st, 2011 and will be connected to the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Georgia.

The Healthcare Ministry’s order in the first instance will affect the 1227 chemist’s shops in Tbilisi. It will force shop owners to increase prices on medicines to cover the expenditure of the GEL 9 million-project or with GEL 7 000 for each shop. Doubting the necessity of providing special measures for ensuring transparency of the process, Turdzeladze worried that control over the relationship between the customer and a pharmacist is a violation of human rights as such cooperation should remain confidential. “If the prices really increase, the Minister of Healthcare will be the only one to blame,” she stated.

PSP Company couldn’t see connections between the surveillance systems and the possible increase of prices on the medicine. “It’s a technical obligation and shouldn’t influence prices but the time will tell … This process is connected with serious expenses as the video cameras necessary for controlling the perimeters are not available at our market so we have announced a tender,” Press Service of PSP stated.