Patient Privacy Concerns Ignored by WA ST Dept of Health

The so-called Patient Protection Act (Senate Bill 5052) that was passed in the 2015 Legislative Session is showing all kinds of problems.  Instead of just dealing with our legislators in Olympia, now patients are being forced to follow the actions of the Department of Health and the WSLCB.

As has been the case from the start of I-502, patients and the public are being deliberately marginalized and excluded from the process.

The state mandated new standardized authorization forms under 5052.

However, when they came out, it included a checkbox section that now forced patients to reveal their qualifying condition on the front page!  It was not part of the language in the bill, but there it was with the statement that if not filled out, the authorization would be invalid.

Why is this a concern?  Because as of July 1, 2016, this is the form patients will use to sign up for the patient registry.  And you sign up for the registry, not with the Dept. of Health, not with your health care provider, but your local retail marijuana shop who have no experience with handling vital medical records or patient privacy!  And the registry is accessible by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, the Department of Health, law enforcement, etc.  All the while cannabis is still on schedule 1 in both state and federal law!

Remember, this is a state willing to sell it to anyone over the counter 21 and older with ID!

Patients now being forced to use these forms are already reporting issues.

Back in August 07, 2015, we contacted the Department of Health with the following question, believing this new requirement to be an invasion of patient privacy: Can you please provide the bill number, bill section and statute that requires a checkbox of the list of qualifying conditions?

Mon, 10 Aug 2015, the reply came:

Inclusion of the qualifying condition is not specifically required in the bill but it is not an exclusive list. We made the decision to include the qualifying condition for policy reasons. Many other states require this information on the physician’s statement and it is recommended in the model legislation promoted by Americans for Safe Access.
Kristi Weeks, JD
Review Officer/Policy Counsel
Washington Department of Health

 We followed up with a personal visit to Ms. Weeks at her office in Olympia.  She was very courteous.  When it was explained there were patients who do not wish the information to be listed, she understood but held firm.  The policy reason was wanting more information.  The other was that other states were doing it.

When asked why patients and the public were not allowed in the decision making process, Ms. Weeks said that it was not required.

So we asked what patients could do to get that removed from the form, she explained that we could try to lodge a complaint with the Rules committee.  The other option was to file a lawsuit.

Shortly after, we filed a public records request to the Department of Health on all the records and communications around this new form.

Make sure you all give Americans for Safe Access a big thanks (NOT) for being the inspiration for Ms. Weeks from the Department of Health to include your medical conditions in the patient authorization form and in the patient database when it was not required by a new bill that passed in the 2015 legislative session.

She seems to enjoy the irony at our expense…

From Weeks, Kristi (DOH) To Baumgartner, Chris J (DOH); Hodgson, Lisa (DOH); Schmitt, Kathy (DOH); Wise, Jeff (DOH); Fernando, Andres (DOH) Recipients Chris.Baumgartner@DOH.WA.GOV; Lisa.Hodgson@DOH.WA.GOV; Kathy.Schmitt@DOH.WA.GOV; Jeff.Wise@DOH.WA.GOV; Andres.Fernando@DOH.WA.GOV
Here is my version unless anyone has strong feeling otherwise. Yes, it’s two pages. Unfortunate, but necessary to get everything on it. And since I really only needed a page and a half, I used the extra space to reiterate some of the law. Can’t hurt.
I did end up listing the qualifying conditions (Chris – I didn’t know how to make auto text check boxes. Can you add those?) It’s the only possible way of getting this information into the database and it’s too valuable to forgo. I do have examples from many other states who require this information if we need to justify it.
When we have all agreed to the final version, we can brainstorm who we want to vet it through. Obviously, the boards and commissions. Definitely WSMA. They have had the most used example of a form for years. Probably the other associations as well. Jason McGill asked me to run it by Americans for Safe Access. They will probably hate it on principle but at least they can’t argue about including the patient’s condition since I noticed that their model legislation says:
( Y ) “Written recommendation” means a document authorizing a patient’s medical use of cannabis that is written on tamper-resistant paper and signed by a qualified medical professional. Such recommendation shall be made only in the course of a bona fide medical professional-patient relationship and shall specify the qualifying patient’s qualifying medical condition(s).
Ironically, the model legislation also establishes a registry. Wish I would have known that when the bill was still in process.
Kristi Weeks, JD Review Officer/Policy Counsel Washington Department of Health PO Box 47890 Olympia, WA 98504-7890 Phone (360) 236-4066 Email Public Health – Always Working for a Safer and Healthier Washington.

When interviewed by “The Stranger” in March, 2016, Ms. Weeks revealed that “…the state could put the data collected on the form to good use, juxtaposing it with data on opioid painkiller use to spot trends…”

That is code for those of you not aware. It is code that means, if you write an authorization for cannabis, you better not write a prescription for an opiate because if the DEA matches that, the doctor could get their federal licenses taken away.

I know this because I have had doctors refuse to do it for me. In fact, I was released from a hospital during a massive pacreatic attack because I admitted to being a medical cannabis patient. The hospital release form even stated to stop using marijuana.

This is an absolute outrage and Ms. Weeks answer if you don’t like it is, don’t get an authorization or as she told me in person, “You can sue us”.

View all the public records on this here:


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