Prescription Drug Use Monitoring by Police?

Could your legal and legitimate private medical records, such as what prescriptions you take, be freely available to police? That is what one state’s law enforcement agency  is after, and the trend could spread.

There is an effort in NC for the Sheriff’s department to get full access to patient prescription records held in a state database collected by a state agency, the NC department of heath and human services.

There is no doubt that prescription drug abuse and illegal distribution is a serious problem. Pain killers and opiates in particular are extremely addictive and subject to abuse. They are also difficult to trace, since they are legally and legitimately used in most cases.

And the prescription drug trade is difficult to track down. There are certainly shady doctors who operate “pill mills”, and there are patients who are addicts who doctor shop for anyone with a loose prescription pad, and will write them a script for opiates and painkillers like oxycontin, percocet, or vicodin, or stimulants like adderall and ritalin.

The NC Sheriff’s association is strongly lobbying for essentially unrestricted access to this data, in order to trace the illegal prescription drug trade at the lowest levels.

This open access to private records could have a chilling effect on the doctor/patient relationship of trust and confidentiality. And it could make anyone who faces chronic pain or serious medical condition a suspect for drug abuse.

According to the NCSL, 39 states already monitor and track prescription drug records. As any privacy expert will tell you, the more data is collected, the easier it is to be abused.

Especially when few people are watching or seem to care.

Ref: Charlotte News & Observer

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