Use Medicine in Store?

(WSVN) - If you take medicine or your parent has to take a shot that is vital to their health, can they take it in a public area or in a business? One South Florida woman was told she could not. She wanted to know if she could be blocked from taking a shot … and it’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Some people couldn’t draw if their life depended on it. And some have had artistic ability all their life…

Marlene Zaret, couldn’t take shot: “I love art. It comes easy for me and it’s an inherited talent from my father.”

Marlene enjoys painting, but ask about her health and she paints a different picture.

Marlene Zaret: “I’m legally blind from macular degeneration. I have two cataracts that need an operation. I have diabetes because I gained weight, because I had a spinal injury.”

Fortunately, Marlene can control her diabetes if she takes insulin at certain times … like before she eats. And the other day when she went into a store, she was hungry.

Marlene Zaret: “And they had a very nice display of sushi, which I love, and some fruit salad. So I ate that.”

Marlene should have taken her insulin before she ate to keep her blood sugar normal.

Marlene Zaret: “And I said, ‘Oh no, I got to do a shot.'”

So she sat down in the store to give herself an insulin shot, and an employee walked by.

Marlene Zaret: “She says you can’t give yourself a shot and I said, ‘I have to give myself a shot.’ She says, ‘Well, it’s our policy in Walgreens that you can’t take a shot.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t see a display anywhere.'”

Marlene says she suggested a solution.

Marlene Zaret: “I asked her if I can go to the bathroom and take my shot and she said no.”

To avoid causing a problem, Marlene got up to leave the store and discovered the police were there.

Marlene Zaret: “They acted like I was stealing something and I asked, ‘Why were you following me?’ They said Walgreens called us.”

Marlene then left…

Marlene Zaret: “I was extremely upset.”

Upset and left with a question, Howard if you have a medical condition, can you take your medicine in public or a private business, even if it involves using a needle…

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Absolutely yes. Federal law allows someone with medical needs to take their medication when it’s needed, whether it’s in a store, on a sidewalk, or in a public park. The law is clear and simple.”

We contacted Walgreens. They wanted to send a short statement that indicates their employee made a mistake when she wouldn’t let Marlene take her insulin.

A spokesman wrote, “We do not have a policy that prevents individuals from taking their medications in our stores.”

Marlene Zaret: “Corporate said we are sorry, we apologize.”

Marlene says not only did she get a corporate apology, the store manager called her to say she was sorry and…

Marlene Zaret: “I had a meeting with all the store employees to let them know there is no policy and people are allowed to do that.”

If you take a pill, noone is going to say anything. It’s that needle that caught the attention of the employee. And while that needle may upset some people, it could help save someone else’s life, which is why a law was passed to help people like Marlene.

A problem left you feeling sick? Need a prescription for a cure? Let us take a shot at it. We don’t have a cure for everything, but hopefully we we can provide a dose of good news.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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