Critics circle around state’s prescription pill database - FOX 13 News

Critics circle around state’s prescription pill database

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TALLAHASSEE (FOX 13) -

Just how safe is your confidential medical information?

That's the question being raised after personal medical details of thousands of Floridians were leaked from Florida's controversial Prescription Drug Monitoring Database last month.

The database, also called E-FORCSE, stores vast amounts of confidential medical information about Floridians, including their names, addresses, medications, dosages, even how they pay for prescriptions.

The Florida Legislature created E-FORCSE in 2009 to crack down on a rampant problem with prescription drug abuse and doctor shopping.

The database is supposed to be restricted to doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement.

But one search by a drug enforcement agent produced details about 3,300 innocent Floridians. Their medical details were inadvertently leaked out.

Now some critics say the database should be eliminated because it's a risk for patients.

The Florida Department of Health listened to suggestions on how to improve its security.

The American Civil Liberties Union wants the state to ban broad searches and force police to get a warrant to access the database.

"Law enforcement should have access to E-FORCSE only after obtaining a warrant or court order targeting specific individuals or entities for specific crimes supported by probably cause," said Pamela Burch Fort of the ACLU.

Law enforcement disagreed.

"Having to get a subpoena or a search warrant to obtain that information would totally slow down the process and put us going backwards rather than forwards in my opinion because it is working," said former police detective Lorrie Abramowitz.

Abramowitz said the database is working great and is one of the best tools law enforcement has ever had for prescription drug abuse cases.

She credits the database and a crackdown on pill mills for the dramatic reduction in doctor shopping and drug abuse in Florida in recent years.

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