(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida is taking steps to bolster security of its prescription drug database after the medical information of thousands of patients somehow leaked out.
The Florida ACLU said the confidential prescription drug information of more than 3,000 Floridians in the database ended up in the hands of third parties.
Now the Florida Department of Health is working with law enforcement and the attorney general to develop better security procedures, including placing limits on who has access to the database and banning access to anyone who leaks information.
The Department of Health has refused to talk about the issue on camera, so the questions ended up going directly to Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott opposed the prescription drug database when he became governor, but softened his stance after lawmakers and Attorney General Pam Bondi showed strong support for it.
Scott said people are a lot more concerned about privacy right now with the revelations about national spying operations. He says he intends to make the Department of Health do a better job of keeping Floridians' medical information confidential.
"We're focused on making sure the Department of Health is focused on making sure that that is done the right way. I'm glad that the deaths from legal drugs are down in the state, but we've got to make sure that we keep everybody's personal information private."
The leak from Florida's prescription drug monitoring database included details about people's medications, dosages, addresses, birthdates and pharmacies that dispensed the medication. The database keeps track of prescription drugs, such as painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids.
Supporters of the database argue it has helped lower prescription drug deaths by nearly 20 percent in Florida and also dramatically limited doctor shopping among patients.