Stand Up for Your Rights in the Face of "Authority"
Legal Statement: Virginia NOW does not endorse any of the organizations/companies below. All information is solely for the purpose of empowerment, knowing your options for the services you use without criticism, judgment, misleading facts, or simply bad service. Go forth and assert yourself!
"If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law." - Winston Churchill
Sections in this page:
ReputationDefender is a very specific service, and unlike Reputation for Business is not something that is recommended (or needed) for most physicians. It is illegal to remove someone else's online content, (especially without their knowledge or consent) however it can be suppressed through techniques developed at Reputation.com. Essentially anyone that searches for a doctor or their practice won't look past the first couple pages of results, and if all they find are positive articles, reviews and sites, then the negative material is substantially mitigated. Reputation Defender works to rearrange the internet's results and 'alter' patients reviews based on whomever their client is.
Doesn't sound too bad at first, does it? Everyone has the right to promote themselves and their businesses. However, this goes further than promotion. This involves free speech. Medical doctors and practices are now able to patch up any negative reviews online they find by simply paying to have them defended while past patients that may been put in harm's way during treatment are having their freedom of speech infringed upon simply because they don't have the same level of income to pay to skew search results.
- Tip #1 (for the patient)
DO NOT sign "Will-Not-Review" Agreement Form
Some doctors have tried to patch up their Internet reputations by asking patients to sign will-not-review agreements. This approach is prone to failure. First, legal precedent may prevent you from speaking freely in the case of injury because you have signed this review. Second, doctors risk alienating themselves and/or their long-term patients and encouraging spite-based online reputation attacks from those who did not sign. The website RateMDs.com even maintains a "Wall of Shame" for physicians who try to prevent patients from posting reviews.
- Tip #2 (for the doctor)
Garner support from your patients
Patients mention a doctor’s bedside manner more than any other factor. Work on developing conversational strategies that instill trust and respect without significantly lengthening patient visits. If you need to rush to get through a busy day, explain why. Also give the patient some avenue for seeking further information or asking questions.
Pharmacy Interference Between You and Your Rx Prescriptions
- Think carefully before providing pharmacists your business that practices the 'conscience-clause' -- for they've obviously chosen the wrong line of work if they cannot fill out medical prescriptions due to religious beliefs getting in the way of their job requirements.
- In the case of a new prescription, if you get any resistance about filling the prescription as it is, simply tell them, "Fill the prescription as it is written or I will take my business to another pharmacy. I can also always receive meds-by-mail.
Demystifying Prior Authorization for Controlled Substances
- Time is still money (and more importantly, energy) in this country and if you have a prescription from your doctor for a controlled substance, there’s a chance you may be required to pick up a physical prescription from your doctor's office (phoned-in refills are not accepted), and then be asked to show your ID at the pharmacy every time you pick up that particular refill.
The Government Using Your Prescriptions to Watch You
It is the Prescription Monitoring Program who is implementing these new regulations. It is not your insurance company and not the FDA requesting your ID every time you pick up your prescriptions. So...why are you being tracked without a warrant?
Answer: The DEA is tightening regulations on several FDA approved medications. They are re-cataloging them into new "controlled substances" categories as well as tracking all of your controlled substances prescriptions with the Prescription Monitoring Program, all in hopes of decreasing drug abuse.
Why is this a problem?
Because you cannot track the medications without tracking the people. This is the prescription equivalent to 'guilty until proven innocent', and perhaps not even then. Therefore, citizens are being watched by Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a database that tracks prescriptions for use as a public health tool by physicians and pharmacists.
Patients are also newly required to annually/biannually/tri-annually obtain prior authorization for any of their meds that have been recataloged as controlled substances. Depending on the prescription, the state they're in and their insurance company, and the spare time of their doctor, this process can take anywhere from a few hours to a month to complete. Several other regulations are being implemented to make access to medications harder and harder.
Insurance companies, who back much of our government's health and drug departments, are angry about how much money they're losing on prescription refills due to the Affordable Healthcare Act. In response, they're setting up an agenda of "regulations" with the intention of making it more difficult than it's worth to pick up our medications. This way, in their mind, they won't have to provide the insurance coverage.
Think about a patient's wellbeing if something should go wrong for even a few days, causing them to go without their medicine. In addition, any doctor who attempts to assist his or her patient before the prior authorization renewal is completed risks losing their medical license.
Legally, they can't regulate you, so they call it 'controlling the substance'. And by controlling the substance, they may now legally regulate you. No exception, no variation.
Unfortunately, not only is this approach unconstitutional, it's medically unjust. Everyone's healthcare situation is entirely different and everyone responds to prescription medications completely differently.
Write to your congresspersons and request that they "improve access to controlled substances".
Photo © ACLU
The DEA Thinks You Have “No Constitutionally Protected Privacy Interest” in Your Confidential Prescription Records
By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project
The Good News
Oregon Just Said No
Oregon is one of the few states that has fought back successfully against the Prescription Monitoring Program. In February, 2014, they became the first state to rule that law enforcement and the DEA must obtain a warrant in order to access patient medical files. Go Oregon!
"Medical information is arguably the most personal and private sources of data about us. Yet privacy protections in this area are far from adequate." - ACLU
How is your medical privacy in question?
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
In cooperation with the Paperwork Reduction Act, all medical records are going electronic via iCloud---even though it's more ethical and secure for doctors to retain their own copies and backups. The PRA also requests that medical practices throw away all paper records ... sure, 'cause that's environmentally friendly.
Premera Blue Cross
Community Health Systems / Tennova
and Yahoo Inc. have all experience breaches by hackers who steal and sell your personal information. (Source)
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (hereafter ARRA), encouraging the adoption of electronic medical records by doctors and hospitals. One of the most significant barriers to this process is the lack of powerful existing safeguards for patient information.
The excruciating amount of energy used to power these electronic transfers and digital backups of several hundred million Americans' medical records, to say nothing of the all trees being cut down to make space for these housed data storage facilities, are not environmentally friendly alternatives. These are also not more secure or ethical alternatives for doctor or patients. Who does this actually benefit? Well, hackers for one, and the government for another. Healthcare and doctor/patient confidentiality receive no benefits from this setup.
The Prescription Monitoring Program is an electronic database that collects information regarding controlled substances dispensed within many states, including Virginia. It appears that Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs and National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws are statewide, housed agencies that gather information about the controlled substances that your doctors prescribe for you and other medications that you may be taking. The housed agency distributes data to individuals who are authorized under state law to receive the information for purposes of their profession.
MEDICAL PRIVACY RESOURCES
- ACLU on Medical Privacy
- FAQ on Government Access to Medical Records
- Protecting Civil Liberties In The Digital Age
- Technology and Liberty
- Patient Privacy Rights
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
- Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program
- DEA's FAQ - Statewide Prescription Monitoring Programs -- What are they?
Thank you to the ACLU for so much kickass research, investigation, and informing the people of their power!
Vive la feminine!