(Sarasota Herald-Tribune) Doctors who prescribe pain medications sometimes find themselves in a tough spot: they may want to report suspicious or clearly illegal behavior by patients, but they are prevented from doing so by the sweeping federal medical privacy law known as HIPPA.
Administrators with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, which is fighting a prescription drug epidemic that led to 113 overdose deaths in Sarasota and Manatee counties during 2010, thought they had found an easy way to learn more about medical patients who might be breaking the law to get pills.
Their solution? Provide doctors with a form patients could sign that would waive their privacy rights and allow detectives to examine an individual's records without getting permission from a judge, an approach that other jurisdictions in Florida are now considering.
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