Officials overseeing the state’s Prescription Drug Management Program, or PDMP, say they’re planning changes, even though they contend they’re not responsible for earlier reports that more than 3,000 records weren’t secure enough to keep them from being accessed by law enforcement.
Currently, the database can be queried using what’s called a “sounds-like” search – meaning a person’s name can be entered phonetically and the database will look for entries that are similar. Rebecca Poston manages the database and told the House Health Quality Subcommittee Tuesday that’s just one way the database will be better secured going forward.
“We’re going to eliminate ‘sounds like’ search radial by law enforcement queries – on the query screen – which was used primarily in hyphenated names and names with apostrophes,” she says. “We’re going to label all results provided to an agency, an entity or an individual ‘confidential.”
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida lawyer Pamela Burch Fort told the committee her group would also like a third party to establish that any database search is attached to an ongoing investigation of a specific person, so those legally on the list aren’t turned up by mistake.
“The PDMP is not a research tool,” Burch Fort says.
Poston says the database, which is entered into voluntarily, only encompasses about 16-percent of medical professionals licensed to dispense medicine in Florida. She says the number may appear artificially low because some doctors rarely prescribe medication and would have no need to participate.