We knew that it would soon be open season on our Medical Records. But this comes with a new twist courtesy of the DEA and local law enforcement. One could think a whole lot better time could be spent rounding up the big time mules bringing in drugs by the Millions of dollars across the border, but then we would have to secure the border and we can’t have that. I have posted before about the so-called “Administrative subpoenas.” Check out the link below. This is a dangerous turn being taken to to subvert the rule of law. Here we go:
Some disturbing news out of Texas, but it’s apparently not limited to the Lone Star State. It seems that the DEA has been investigating so-called “pill mills” to crack down on doctors getting a little too enthusiastic with their prescription pads. That’s a worthy issue to look into if it’s happening in large numbers but it comes with a built in problem. If these doctors are writing prescriptions, then by definition they must be writing them for patients. And if the DEA wants a peek at those patients’ confidential medical records they need to get a warrant.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been accessing personal medical files without a warrant, generating a backlash from doctors and privacy advocates who say the practice is intrusive and unconstitutional — and have taken the agency to court.
“It’s just not right,” Texas attorney Terri Moore said.
The controversial record searches are part of the government’s effort to crack down on illegal “pill mills” and prescription drug abuse. But they’ve set up a clash over privacy rights, and a legal battle is now playing out in the 5th and 9th Circuit appeals courts. Lower courts have issued conflicting rulings to date, with one backing the DEA and another demanding the agency get warrants if it wants to look at patient records.
There are two different techniques being employed by the DEA which are under examination here and they’re both bad. The first is the increasing use of administrative subpoenas to gain access to the patient records. You can read a full explanation of what an administrative subpoena is here, as well as restrictions on their use and what they are intended to capture. These are not the same as a search warrant. They’re generally used as more of an initial, background investigation of some larger, broad area of concern and can grab up records from businesses and agencies to gather information. They don’t seem to be intended to go into the personal files and papers of individuals absent probable cause, but that’s the net result of what’s going on here. Even if the feds are actually going after the doctor, they shouldn’t be accessing the health records of the patients. (And in cases like this, it’s the doctor who is the real problem, not the person getting a prescription.)
Even worse than that is the allegation that the DEA is sometimes skipping even the fig leaf of a subpoena.
Further, critics say the agency has “tricked” doctors into handing over documents by showing up with state medical board officials for searches and not identifying themselves, in turn giving the impression they’re with the board.
Mari Robinson, executive director of the Texas Medical Board, did not deny in a 2014 congressional hearing that the DEA did this on numerous occasions. She said the board often conducts joint investigations with the DEA, and “what they [DEA] do is up to them.”
Full story over at Hot Air
Early post: DEA seeks presciption records without warrants
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from obtaining prescription records without a warrant in Oregon.
The state of Oregon filed suit against the DEA last year after the agency sought to access the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), a database of prescription records for certain drugs. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate hope to join the lawsuit on behalf of patients and doctors.
In seeking to join the lawsuit on Saturday, the ACLU said the DEA’s actions violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The group argued that patients and physicians in Oregon have a “reasonable expectations of privacy in their prescription records,” and were protected from unreasonable searches.