Supporters of Florida’s two-year-old prescription database say it has cut down on doctor-shopping by drug abusers and has played a major role in the state’s dramatic decrease in overdose deaths.
But critics say the recent release of the prescription history of 3,300 individuals to private lawyers illustrates the privacy threat inherent in the state program and raises broader concern about government’s ability to snoop into personal records.
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WHAT IS THE DRUG DATABASE?
• The program, started in September 2011, is meant to curb drug-abusers from doctor-shopping. Pharmacists are required to enter prescriptions for controlled substances – including pain medications like OxyCodone and Oxycontin, sleeping pills like Ambien and steroids – into the database. The information includes the prescribing doctor’s name; the patient’s name, address and date of birth; the name and address of the pharmacy that filled the prescription; the dose and method of payment.
WHO CAN SEE IT?
• Physicians are permitted but not required to look up patients’ drug history before prescribing.
• Law enforcers are allowed to get information for investigations of drug crimes.
RECORDS WERE SHARED. WAS IT LEGAL?
• The State Attorney’s Office for the 7th Judicial Circuit, in DeLand, released prescription records for 3,300 people to five attorneys representing defendants in a prescription drug fraud case. The key questions: Does this action meet the statute’s requirements for retrieving information from the database? Was the state attorney correct in giving out the information to the defense attorneys?
HOW TO OBTAIN YOUR RECORDS IN THE DATABASE
• A patient, legal guardian or health care surrogate can verify the accuracy of the database information by sending a written, notarized request to the Department of Health.