This story comes via Scott Greenfield, and it is depressing, funny and heartwarming all at the same time.
This is the depressing part: Police down in Sarasota, Florida thought they had a brilliant idea on how to get information on people they thought were violating the drug laws with respect to abusing prescription medications. All they had to do, the geniuses figured, was have patients sign a form waiving all of their patient-physician privacy rights. This way, if they wanted to investigate someone, they wouldn’t have to bother with all that icky stuff regarding judges and search warrants. The doctors would just have the patient sign the forms, and then the cops could just dance right into the doctor’s office and start nosing around without the patient knowing. Brilliant
The waiver, as originally published in Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune, looks like this:
The local constabulary was obviously hoping that patients wouldn’t bother to read all the legal mumbo-jumbo and challenge their doctor regarding the form. When you go to a doctor, and are in pain, reading forms isn’t exactly high on the list of things to do. Especially when written in legalese.
When people seek out medical attention it is because they need treatment, so they generally sign whatever is placed in front of them. And they don’t want to pick fights about forms with doctors for fear of being shown the exit door.
One of the more comical aspects of this attempted end-run around the constitutional rights of the patients, came from Patrick Duggan, assistant general counsel for the sheriff’s office. He, along with Sgt. Debra Kaspar from the Sheriff’s office, were behind the scheme. Duggan had this to say:
We want to make good cases. We don’t want anyone’s rights violated. We drafted the form to give the doctors a mechanism to contact us. It was really designed more as a safeguard to protect people’s rights than anything else.
His ability to say this without doubling over in laughter qualifies him for political office, where mendacity is king.
Now I did say that this story was also heartwarming. How could something this awful be heartwarming?
Easy. Because the local doctors have told Duggan and Kaspar and their minions to go to hell.
From the Herald Tribune:
Kaspar and Duggan have no explanation for why doctors are not turning in any waivers.
The docs done good.
Really interesting article. I would hope that those forms would be disregarded as contracts of adhesion if the police ever tried to rely on them for an arrest. Not to mention what potential HIPPA violations there may be with a form like that.