A few years, I picked up a job doing some pharmaceutical audits. A certain drugstore got into trouble for HIPAA violations when it was discovered some of their confidential patient information had been chucked into the dumpsters rather than correctly processed in a manner that kept the patient’s name and prescriptions completely confidential. They had to pay enormous fines and submit to random store visits for auditing. They were required to do it for 3 years, and they voluntarily extended that an additional 2. There are teams of auditors from the audit company who fly/drive to areas to meet with a local person contracted to be the dumpster diver. Basically, they don’t mind doing employee interviews and looking around at things, but they don’t want to be the ones getting dirty, so they hire us to do it. They do it for 2-3 months, but since divers are local, we only have a few days. This year, I had 4 days/11 stores.
I feel like a CSI/detective/someone who actually did something with that Criminology degree she went to school for. Due to confidentiality agreements, I cannot say which drugstore pharmacy we audit, nor which stores or even cities I’ve been in, and I definitely cannot mention any results of the trash examinations. Completely separate from any patient data, I was pleased to find someone’s wallet one year, so police were called to return it to them. I’ve found a number of people are not pregnant; I’m guessing the use of the test right at the store probably means that was good news for them. I’ve found it is amazing how many people bring their own bags of trash from home to dump into store dumpsters. I don’t know why that is better than just putting it in a can by the street, unless they live in an area not served by waste pickup. But mostly, I’ve learned that I find it perversely fun. It would not be exciting to do on a regular basis but for a couple of days a year, I really enjoy it. Except, of course, for being in a big metal heat radiator in the middle of summer in the South. That part is definitely not so fun.