pills01.jpg
Here's an exercise: Make a list of the people you think should know what prescription drugs you take.

Are law enforcement officers on that list?

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Washington Department of Health Announces Plan to Let Cops and Others Track the Drugs You Take

pills01.jpg
Here's an exercise: Make a list of the people you think should know what prescription drugs you take.

Are law enforcement officers on that list? How about Medicaid service distributors or worker's compensation auditors?

No? Well, too bad. They'll soon get to see your records anyway.

The Washington State Department of Health announced yesterday that it will soon begin a Prescription Drug Monitoring program that lets "health care providers, patients, law enforcement, and others" monitor records of drugs that have been prescribed to people.

Who are those "others"?

DOH provides this full list of people who can access the drug records.

--Persons authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances to provide medical or pharmaceutical care for their patients;

--An individual who requests their own prescription monitoring information;

--Health professional licensing, certification, or regulatory agency or entity;

--Local, state, and federal law enforcement or prosecutorial officials engaged in an investigation involving a designated person;

--Medical examiners and coroners for cause of death determination;

--Authorized practitioners of the Department of Social and Health Services or the Health Care Authority regarding medicaid program recipients;

--The director or director's designee within the Department of Labor and Industries for workers' compensation claimants;

--The director or the director's designee within the Department of Corrections for offenders committed to the Department of Corrections;

--Other entities under grand jury subpoena or court order;

--Personnel of the department for purposes of administration and enforcement of this rule or Chapter 69.50 RCW.

The reason for the program is apparently so law enforcement officers and health professionals can track and stop prescription drug abuse.

Chris Baumgartner, DOH's director of the Prescription Drug Monitoring program, insists that the program will simply make patients safer. "We see this as a patient safety tool," he tells Seattle Weekly. "It's not about turning pharmacists into police, but helping them keep patients safe. It gives them more info to make better medical decisions."

According to Robert Zielke, an attorney who represents pharmacists, however, the law is just another way for the government to peer into the lives of citizens, and furthermore it will be hell on the pharmacists tasked with "policing" drug records. "It's a few patients who are bad apples that are causing everyone's data to go into this databank," says Zielke. "The pharmacists will do more work with no compensation for it and will have to pass that cost along the way. It also opens them up to more liability. The government is prying into patients' lives for a limited benefit."

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