The DEA Has Been Seizing Patient Records Without a Warrant

Some disturbing news out of Texas, but it’s apparently not limited to the Lone Star State. It seems that the DEA has been investigating so called “pill mills” to crack down on doctors getting a little too enthusiastic with their prescription pads. That’s a worthy issue to look into if it’s happening in large numbers but it comes with a built in problem. If these doctors are writing prescriptions, then by definition they must be writing them for patients. And if the DEA wants a peek at those patients’ confidential medical records they need to get a warrant.

Or do they? (Fox News)

Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been accessing personal medical files without a warrant, generating a backlash from doctors and privacy advocates who say the practice is intrusive and unconstitutional — and have taken the agency to court.

“It’s just not right,” Texas attorney Terri Moore said.

The controversial record searches are part of the government’s effort to crack down on illegal “pill mills” and prescription drug abuse. But they’ve set up a clash over privacy rights, and a legal battle is now playing out in the 5th and 9th Circuit appeals courts. Lower courts have issued conflicting rulings to date, with one backing the DEA and another demanding the agency get warrants if it wants to look at patient records.