Today the Washington state Department of Health announced it has sent letters to 34 people whose records were illegally accessed by someone using a physician’s identity.
The action came after it was discovered a doctor’s personal and professional information was used to set up a fake account in the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program.
Officials are urging health care providers using the system to review their account to make sure it hasn’t been used fraudulently. Prescribers without accounts are being asked to establish their own accounts to reduce the risk of illegal access.
The Prescription Monitoring Program oversees a database with information on controlled substance prescriptions, including drugs regulated by federal and state law because of potential for abuse. Those authorized to prescribe these drugs use the online system to see their patients’ controlled substance prescription history to better coordinate patient care and help prevent overprescribing, dangerous drug interactions, and drug addiction.
State health officials immediately deactivated the account upon discovering it was fraudulent. The illegal account had been used to put the information of 34 patients into a format that can be downloaded. The patients and their prescribing providers have been notified and law enforcement is now investigating the case, DOH officials said.
The patients involved have been urged to contact health insurers and care providers to verify no unauthorized services have been used under their names.
More than 10,000 health care providers in Washington use the online system. Other groups, including law enforcement and health professional licensing boards, can request information to help prevent controlled substance misuse, fraud and diversion.
The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin will update this story as more information becomes available.