Doctors in Virginia are thinking twice before prescribing painkillers such as morphine and Vicodin because of the recent hacker attack on the Prescription Monitoring Program, according to a state official who testified at a legislative hearing Monday.
The attack, which took place two months ago, allegedly compromised more than 35 million patient records.
The attack drew the attention of many concerned with the security of electronic records. In an undetermined number of cases, patients’ Social Security numbers were compromised.
Now there is concern that residents are unable to obtain needed medication from their doctors.
From a story in the Washington Post:
With the prescription database still offline two months after it was accessed because of FBI and state criminal investigations and work to upgrade the system, some doctors are reluctant to prescribe highly addictive painkillers such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, morphine and Valium, said Sandra Whitley Ryals, director of the Department of Health Professions.
“I do not have any indication, however, of how many that might be,” she told the panel.
Ryals said the reports were anecdotal and that the department had not received any complaints from patients.
“I do know that our prescribers, mostly physicians, have grave concerns about not being able to access the information,” she said. They were being asked “to use their best judgment,” she said.
BizSense reported May 21 that VCU medical center had been at the forefront of the national push to digitize its medical records with nearly all its patient records in a system developed by a Missouri company called Cerner. Read more here.
There have been a number of high-profile personal information exposures in Richmond, including at VCU, where in April more than 17,000 academic records might have been exposed, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that tracks such information.