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Medicine Privacy Politics

DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records 455

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-see-you're-taking-terrorism-pills dept.
schwit1 writes "Like emails and documents stored in the cloud, your prescription medical records may have a tenuous right to privacy. In response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the privacy of certain medical records, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is arguing (ACLU response) that citizens whose medical records are handed over to a pharmacy — or any other third-party — have 'no expectation of privacy' for that information." Oregon mandates that pharmacies report information on people receiving certain drugs to a centralized database (ostensibly to "...help people work with their health care providers and pharmacists to know what medications are best for them."). State law does allow law enforcement to access the records, but only with a warrant. The DEA, however, thinks that, because the program is public, a citizen is knowingly disclosing that information to a third party thus losing all of their privacy rights (since you can always just opt out of receiving medical care) thanks to the Controlled Substances Act. The ACLU and medical professionals (PDF) don't think there's anything voluntary about receiving medical treatment, and that medical ethics override other concerns.
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DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records

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  • by killfixx (148785) * on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:15AM (#44947783) Journal

    Of these three-letter-agencies twisting the law to fit their needs. And, without any of the necessary oversight that we were promised.

    So, I guess my question is, are things going to get better because we have a more aggressive flashlight for exposing these secret interpretations of our law, or, will this just keep getting worse until something significantly worse happens? Something like, Egypt, Syria, etc...

    Revolutions are nothing new... I just wish they weren't so damned violent and terrifying.

  • by astapleton (324242) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:26AM (#44947895) Homepage Journal

    Hmmm, let's see...if I'm being treated for a condition, any condition not involving an illegal act, and someone walks into my doctor's office and says "Give me Example Guy's current medical records", the first words out of my doctor's mouth will be "Show me your warrant or get out of my office."

    So if the doctor prescribes medication to treat my medical condition, that comes under doctor-patient confidentiality. The ONLY people I have to share that information with are the pharmacy tech and pharmacy manager who do not share that information with anyone else outside that doctor's office.

    So why do authority and police organizations think it's okay to grab my records at a whim because I'm taking, say, Ritalin to treat severe ADHD? They have no business or right to be pawing through peoples' records looking for criminals unless they serve a warrant to every physician involved. There is no condition under which legally prescribed medication falls outside of those parameters unless the patient himself gives said organization written authorization gained in a legal manner to search their own records.

    So take your 'public disclosure' bull and stick it up your backside along with badge, Mr. Policeman. The rules apply to EVERYONE, not just the people who don't own their very own cheap tin badges.

  • by tiberus (258517) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:37AM (#44948041)

    Hmmm, so if my records are made available to a third party, I lose my right to privacy . . .

    Well, my medical insurance requires access to my records or at least to medical information in order to process claims for coverage, including condition, diagnosis, tests, medication, etc., etc. etc.

    So by logical extension, the medical records of everyone are public?!?

  • HIPPA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:41AM (#44948097) Journal
    Co-incidentally, I was doing training on this today. From what I learned this the point of the legislation in HIPPA. The act (and the amendments) concerns the confidential transit of private medical information and the correct handling and destruction of it. Of course they need a warrant otherwise it's a violation, liable to some pretty big fines. That might even affect the admissibility of the evidence to a court because it's illegally obtained.

    2c

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:46AM (#44948183)

    the DEA is just trying to catch shady doctors

    First of all, even if this was true, it wouldn't justify violating the privacy rights of third parties.

    Secondly, the DEA considers any doctor who prescribes a lot of painkillers to be a "shady doctor", even if there is a legitimate medical reason. Doctors who treat people with chronic pain are in real danger of being prosecuted by these witch-hunters.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:48AM (#44948209)

    The moment they started.
    It took a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. Where is the one that bans any other drugs or enables the DEA?

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:48AM (#44948211) Homepage

    There was plenty of violence and even assassinations in those fights. More recently, OWS protesters were tear gassed, maced, and beaten with clubs.

  • by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:51AM (#44948267) Homepage

    HIPAA specifically permits law enforcement to request PHI through a variety of means [hhs.gov]. A court order is probably the fool proof way to get it. Or they can just ask for it and say that it's for a specific investigation in a written letter...because no one would ever lie on a written letter. Or just claim that it's for national security. You don't want the terrorists to win do you? Will someone think of the children!?!?

  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:53AM (#44948303)

    I would say the Civil Rights movement in the US was a revolution.

    I find it immensely depressing that the same generation that fought so hard and paid such a dear price for civil rights when they were young was the exact same generation to sell them back so cheaply when they were old.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:14AM (#44948559) Homepage

    All courtesy of the PATRIOT act.

    Repeal that and all the crap that has been going on falls like a deck of cards.

    Sadly not one of the spineless scumbags in washington dares to even talk of repealing it.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:19AM (#44948607) Journal

    If the DEA wins, then surely Oregon's database (PDMP) is in violation of HIPAA, which means the database should be shut down, which means that there would no longer be any data for the DEA to collect.

    So, great work DEA. Shut down a useful database.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:28AM (#44948739)

    If you compare the Tea Party or Occupy to the Civil Rights campaign, you will see the latter was much longer in duration, had far more people participating, and had locally major economic impact (the Montgomery bus boycott). So the reason the Tea Party and Occupy failed is they did not have enough people with enough commitment.

    Well, the Tea Party simply couldn't get enough people to believe in the cause - being exposed as a scheme for the rich to get richer at the expense of the public certainly didn't help. Plus there just wasn't enough anger to tap into.

    Occupy had the requisite anger (see the many Occupy events held worldwide). The problem is the people Occupy represent (in general) are pretty powerless - and they represented a threat to the establishment. So the establishment simply overpowered them (it's Wall street - the people there have money and therefore power). And given the media was owned by those in power, it was easy to hide any Occupy news to some hidden section of the paper (or website).

    Of course, it didn't help that Occupy was badly fragmented in what they wanted as well, so while people could understand the anger, the message got lost.

  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:41PM (#44949581)

    > That's one thing that has them upset with the attempts by several states to legalize
    > marijuana. Since it can be grown and consumed locally, the Interstate Clause doesn't
    > necessarily apply.

    Oh, they'll find a way to make interstate commerce apply to just about anything.
        See Wickard v. Filburn for an example.

    If you don't care to google, the short version is that some congressman had driven through the notion that there should be a minimum price for his constituents' grains. So congress imposed a quota on how much grain a farmer could grow. Filburn (another farmer) was growing grain (wheat, IIRC) in excess of his quota... for his family's personal and private consumption. In other words, this grain was never destined for commerce, interstate or otherwise.

    He was fined and ordered to destroy his crops, fought it all the way to the SCOTUS, and lost. Their reasoning was that by growing his own grain he was not buying it on the open market, which could potentially include grain grown in other states. Therefore he was taking part in "interstate commerce" and could be regulated.

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:28PM (#44951029) Journal

    Prohibition works quite well when alternatives are available for the same market - it works so well that you only notice it in cases where there is no or poor alternatives, and so a black market is created. The FDA bans lots of drugs because they're just too dangerous for the goal they achieve, and that's a worthwhile goal - it's effectively fraud prevention. That's quite different from drugs like pot that are banned because of the goal they achieve.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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