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State beefs up security for prescription drug database

From the Associated Press:

State health officials said Wednesday they were beefing up security of the statewide prescription drug database to protect patient information, a week after the American Civil Liberties Union said patients' personal information was leaked.

The Florida Department of Health said it was working with law enforcement officials and Attorney General Pam Bondi to explore addition safety measures, including limiting the number of people from state agencies allowed to use the database, creating a system requiring all agency administrators be notified when a user requests database information and potentially disqualifying users who compromise patient information.

State officials said they also want more clearly displayed penalties for improper disclosure on the program's web-based disclosure screens.

Health officials are currently working on rules about the enhanced security and access of the database and will hold a workshop next month where stakeholders and the public can weigh in.

State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong said the database "works daily to save the lives of those with prescription narcotic addiction and privacy is job one. That's why today the department is taking steps forward to put additional safeguards in place to prevent any unauthorized use of information that is intended to save lives."

The database, which lawmakers created in an effort to crack down on the state's pill mills, leaked thousands of patients' personal information, even though some of the details were not part of any criminal investigation, the American Civil Liberties Union said last week.

Read more here.