Add this investigation to your must-read list. Mark Greenblatt and Angela M. Hill of Scripps News report:
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.
Prescription drug monitoring programs are operated by every state except Missouri and the District of Columbia. Missouri’s program awaits state legislative approval, and D.C. expects to have its program fully operational by the end of the year. The primary goal of the state programs is to track and analyze prescription data to help doctors and pharmacists curb the overuse of addictive drugs such as painkillers. But a patchwork of state laws has left the privacy of Americans largely unguarded, allowing police agencies easy access.
Scripps News found during a five-month investigation that law enforcement tapped into at least 344,921 prescription histories of Americans between 2014-2015 in the states that don’t require a warrant or another form of court authorization. That is more than six times the number of searches that took place by law enforcement in states that have more privacy safeguards enacted. It is access without oversight that leaves the door open for abuses.
Read the entire report and look at the infographics on WCPO. This is really an information-packed piece that all privacy advocates and those concerned about medical privacy should read.