Did You Know YOUR prescription records are not private! | WTMJ-TV

Seriously.. Did you know YOUR prescription records are not private! West Virginia’s law allows police open access to everyone’s private prescription records without your consent or a warrant. WVpac.Org feels this is an issue that needs exposure, so please read then share.

In West Virginia, police must only promise they have an investigation to tap in.  “No case number or other certification is required,” said Michael Goff, administrator of the controlled substance database for the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

Basically, if you are arrested in West Virginia for anything like DUI, domestic, shoplifting, etc, the police can pull your board of pharmacy records and put them in the case file and your health history is instantly available to the news or anyone else.

*Federal judge Ancer Haggerty concluding “the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas to obtain prescription records from the (prescription drug monitoring program) violates the Fourth Amendment.”

The worst part is these obvious violations to your privacy rights are not covered by HIPAA regulations, so your medical history is public record at the whim of a police officer. Many people believe private records of your personal medical information should stay under seal and only produced with a warrant or court order by a judge based on relevancy and pertinence to a specific crime. At this point in time law enforcement does not need your permission, a warrant or a court order, or anything. Any police officer can currently get your private medical records by simply logging in to the site.

Yes it is that simple for law enforcement to destroy someones life..

WVpac.Org has dug deep into this and uncovered the laws, detailed information and related articles. The exclusive article described below was provided by WTMJ-TV News. As the title suggests it provides an in-depth look into the law and the privacy issues surrounding it, and how it has many unintended consequences.

Exclusive investigation: Your prescriptions aren’t private

Brief excerpts:


MARK GREENBLATT AND ANGELA M. HILL, SCRIPPS NEWS

The prescriptions you have in your medicine cabinet might not be as private as you believe they are. Thirty-one states grant law enforcement warrantless access to databases containing drug histories, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is pushing hard to search records even in states that have privacy safeguards.

The disclosures to police agencies often take place without notifying the person targeted in a search and without offering a chance to object. That means no court ever approves the release of records that can reveal treatment for private medical conditions such as cancer, psychiatric disorders, HIV or gender reassignment.


Their lives were almost ruined

“I could have lost my family, I could have lost my career,” said Marlon Jones, an assistant fire chief with the Unified Fire Authority of Salt Lake County, Utah. Jones says he was falsely charged with felonies related to doctor shopping as a result of a warrantless search by local police in Cottonwood Heights.

Investigators were looking into the theft of prescription drugs from area ambulances. With no suspects, no probable cause and no warrant, a police officer working the case logged into Utah’s controlled substance database and searched the prescription drug records for all 480 fire department employees.

“I had no idea that a police officer, just on a whim, could go into my medical records and then determine what’s appropriate, in his opinion,” recounted Ryan Pyle, a fellow firefighter paramedic whose prescription records got swept up in the same warrantless search.


National battles brewing

Concern about privacy rights and potential abuses of the information stored in Utah’s database date back to when the state launched the program in the mid-90s. In a March 1995 letter to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, then Governor Mike Leavitt warned, “I will be watching the use of this database. If the information from the database is used in any manner other than its intended purpose, I will seek to have the database disbanded.”

Two decades later, controversies in Utah have helped shape the state into one of a handful of emerging legal battlegrounds where privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies from across the nation  will be pitted against each other in a fight that could ultimately help determine how private Americans’ prescription records are.

“Permitting law enforcement officers to go on fishing expeditions in people’s personal information, then make their own untrained medical judgments and prosecute people as a result, has the power to destroy lives,” said Scott Michelman, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog Public Citizen.


DEA pushes hard for access

While privacy advocates have won important recent victories, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has grown increasingly aggressive, pushing to circumvent privacy safeguards even when state legislatures put them in place.

In Oregon, privacy-focused lawmakers set up the state’s database in 2009 and required law enforcement to present a warrant in order to access prescription records in the state’s database.   But despite the state’s law, the DEA claimed a separate federal law still allowed them warrantless access to Oregon’s data.  The DEA wanted access using only an administrative subpoena —  a document that does not require approval by a court.  Alarmed, the State of Oregon sued to block the DEA’s attempts and the American Civil Liberties Union intervened in the lawsuit.

The court ruled in favor of Oregon and the ACLU, with the federal judge Ancer Haggerty concluding “the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas to obtain prescription records from the (prescription drug monitoring program) violates the Fourth Amendment.”


Vast differences in state privacy safeguards

Of the 31 states that allow warrantless access, 15 confirmed to Scripps they give law enforcement direct or login access to the sensitive information contained in the prescription drug databases. This allows some law enforcement officers to access the database from their computers.

“All registered users have direct logins (usernames and passwords) to be able to make requests. No prior contact to our agency needs to be made,” Indiana authorities said in response to a Scripps inquiry.  “They do not have to provide anything prior to a request, only the case number.”

In West Virginia, police must only promise they have an investigation to tap in.  “No case number or other certification is required,” said Michael Goff, administrator of the controlled substance database for the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

“When that type of information can be rifled through …by law enforcement, with the power to prosecute, that’s a very scary thing and something that should give all of us pause,” said attorney Michelman.


Related links: 

West Virginia Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substance Monitoring Program

WEST VIRGINIA CODE Confidentiality; limited access to records; period of retention; no civil liability for required reporting

Read the entire article at… WTMJ-TV News

Source: Exclusive investigation: Your prescriptions aren’t private