DEA wants to access your medical records without consent or warrantSubmitted by fonzdrew on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 18:37
Back in 2011, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released a list of strategies for combating prescription pill abuse. From a civil liberties standpoint, one strategy in particular stood out: "Identify and seek to remove administrative and regulatory barriers to 'pill mill' and prescriber investigations that impair investigations while not serving another policy goal." Last year I wondered what the DEA and the ONDCP might do to "remove" barriers that are meant to protect patient privacy. The ACLU has an answer for us:
The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to access private prescription records of patients in Oregon without a warrant, despite a state law forbidding it from doing so. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate are challenging this practice in a new case that raises the question of whether the Fourth Amendment allows federal law enforcement agents to obtain confidential prescription records without a judge’s prior approval. It should not.
In 2009, the Oregon legislature created the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which tracks prescriptions for certain drugs dispensed by Oregon pharmacies, including all of the medications listed above. The program was intended to help physicians prevent drug overdoses by their patients and more easily recognize signs of drug abuse. Because the medical information revealed by these prescription records is highly sensitive, the legislature created robust privacy and security protections for the PDMP, including a requirement that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before requesting records for use in an investigation. But despite those protections, the DEA has been requesting prescription records from the PDMP using administrative subpoenas which, unlike warrants, do not involve demonstrating probable cause to a neutral judge.