Medical Records in Doctor Shopping Drug Cases
Drug Charge and Doctor-Shopping Defense Attorney Lawyer notes a case where although the court allowed evidence from warrantless seizure of pharmacy records, it granted a Motion to Suppress Evidence from medical records and discussions with doctors that were also obtained without a warrant. We have previously covered this law here:
Florida Statute: 893.13.7A8 is a Third Degree Felony.
Statute Excerpt: 893.13 Prohibited acts; penalties.
(7)(a) It is unlawful for any person: To withhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days.
Here are the Doctor Shopping Case Facts:
The officer had reason to believe that Defendant was committing the crime of withholding information from a physician and, as such, trafficking would ensue because the prescriptions received would have been fraudulent because of the withholding information. The officer goes to various pharmacies, pulls patient’s profiles. From those patients’ profiles, he finds out who the prescribing doctors are. He then goes to the prescribing doctors, in this case, [Dr. X and Dr. Y], and speaks with the doctors without any subpoena or search warrant being issued. The conversations include whether or not Defendant had disclosed previous prescriptions to the doctor. The officer also pulled and reviewed various patient documents.
Doctor Shopping Case Excerpts:
“Medical records and physician’s statements are protected by the statutory physician-patient privilege, and therefore, the State was required to get either a subpoena with court approval or prior notice to and authorization from Defendant. See §§ 456.057(6) & (7)(a), Fla. Stat. (2008).”
“The fact that the police had already secured doctors’ names from prescriptions at pharmacies does not waive the requirements of law. There is a danger of medical professionals willing to surrender private medical records and engage in discussions regarding private and privileged communications concerning their treatment of individuals in submission to apparent police authority.”
“The language in Section 456.057 is intentionally broad in protecting information from being disclosed by a health care practitioner and in assuring that the condition of a patient may not be discussed. The protection extends to all patient records. The State is not precluded from obtaining the information it seeks. Its agents must only follow the law and either seek a patient’s written authorization or the issuance of a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction and proper notice to the patient or a search warrant.”
“The object of the physician-patient privilege is to encourage patients to be entirely forthcoming and candid in their statements to their treating physicians. These conversations and the records with regard thereto protect our most fundamental right, the pursuit of life itself.”
Source: 4th DCA No. 4D10-777 November 16, 2011
If you or someone you care about have been charged with Doctor Shopping you can call a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at 813-222-2220 and tell me your story.
Tampa Doctor Shopping Florida Attorney Lawyer