Wednesday morning, Stat published a piece on the quaint, old-school pharmacy that hand-delivers prescription medications to our hardworking Congress members on the Hill each day.
While the piece was focused on the history and workings of the pharmacy, the Internet zeroed in on one eye-popping section:
Mike Kim, the reserved pharmacist-turned-owner of the pharmacy, said he has gotten used to knowing the most sensitive details about some of the most famous people in Washington.
“At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Kim said, listing treatments for conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.’”
The section clearly suggests that some members of Congress have Alzheimer’s or some other medical condition that may impair their ability to function in their jobs.
The Internet responded swiftly. Vox did a piece highlighting the section. People on Twitter expressed dismay at the revelation and the apparent breach in trust.
Now, Kim is backpedaling. In a follow-up story on Stat, he tried to set the record straight saying that he was only speaking in “hypothetical” terms.
I was speaking very broadly about disease states that the general American population have and that it also applies to everyone including members of the US House and Senate since they are also people just like you and I.
He went further, adding:
I am not aware of any member that actually has Alzheimer’s and would certainly not disclose any such information if I did know… patient privacy is a very serious matter that I am committed to upholding.
As Vox pointed out, the original revelation doesn’t appear to violate patient privacy laws because he didn’t identify any specific patients.