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Prescription drug monitoring database records leaked

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 1, 2013

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Florida health officials will be working to increase security of its prescription drug monitoring database after the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida revealed that some records were released to law enforcement officials inappropriately.

The ACLU sent a letter to the Florida Dept. of Health on June 11 asking for information on how and why prescription drug information belonging to about 3,300 Florida patients was distributed to prosecutors and defense attorneys who were working on six pending criminal cases. They discovered “by sheer chance” at least one of the records that was released belonged to someone who was not under investigation. It’s not known how many individuals who were not part of the probe had their records released. The information in the database includes names, birth dates, addresses, prescription dosage amounts and other information.

Law enforcement officers do not have access to the database but can request records as part of criminal investigations. Database managers then provide the requested data to them. The state department of health is looking into ways it can make the database more secure, including limiting the number of state workers who can access the database and clearly displaying penalties for improper disclosure of records on the computer screen when disclosures are made.

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