A statewide database aimed at cracking down on the state's pill mills leaked thousands of patients' personal information, even though the details were not part of any criminal investigation, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday.
Personal details, including dosage amounts, birthdates, addresses and other information was given to Volusia County prosecutors and defense attorneys who were working on six criminal cases. The ACLU said someone who was not part of a criminal investigation found out their prescription information was also given to the lawyers. It wasn't clear how the person found out.
Florida lawmakers approved the database, which tracks prescriptions for painkillers and other highly abused drugs, in a 2009 vote that split GOP legislators for weeks. The system was plagued by political, legal and financial obstacles. It wasn't up and running until late 2011.
"We want to know how this monumental breach of security and confidentiality occurred, and how a state-mandated database could apparently be so misused that it led to the widespread distribution of intimate medical information unconnected to any ongoing investigation," ACLU of Florida associate legal director Maria Kayanan said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health, which oversees the database, said law enforcement officials have a duty to protect the confidentiality of the information during a criminal investigation and implied that did not happen in this case, but did not elaborate.