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Lewis v. Super. Ct.

Filed 7/17/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA ALWIN CARL LEWIS, ) ) Petitioner, ) S219811 ) v. ) ) Ct.App. 2/3 B252032 THE SUPERIOR COURT OF ) LOS ANGELES COUNTY, ) ) Los Angeles County Respondent; ) Super. Ct. No. BS 139289 ) MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA, ) ) Real Party in Interest. ) ____________________________________) The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) is California‟s prescription drug monitoring program. By statute, every prescription of a Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance must be logged in CURES, along with the patient‟s name, address, telephone number, gender, date of birth, drug name, quantity, number of refills, and information about the prescribing physician and pharmacy. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11165, subd. (d); all undesignated statutory references are to this code.) The question in this case is whether the Medical Board of California (Board) violated patients‟ right to privacy under article I, section 1 of the California Constitution when it obtained data from CURES without a warrant or subpoena supported by good cause in the course of investigating the patients‟ physician, Dr. Alwin Carl Lewis. We hold SEE CONCURRING OPINION that it did not because, even assuming that accessing prescription records without good cause constitutes a significant intrusion on a legally protected privacy interest, the Board‟s actions in this case were justified. I. CURES was created in 1996 in an effort to move California‟s preexisting drug monitoring program online. (Sen. Com. on Crim. Proc., Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 3042 (1995–1996 Reg. Sess.) as amended Mar. 28, 1996.) CURES is maintained by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and is designed to “assist health care practitioners in their efforts to ensure appropriate prescribing, ordering, administering, furnishing, and dispensing of controlled substances,” and to help “law enforcement and regulatory agencies in their efforts to control the diversion and resultant abuse of [Schedule II-IV] controlled substances.” (§ 11165, subd. (a).) CURES requires any pharmacy or dispenser that prescribes or dispenses controlled substances listed on Schedules II, III, or IV to keep a record of the prescription and to report specific information to the DOJ as soon as reasonably possible, subject to certain exceptions. (§§ 11165, subd. (d), 11190.) This information includes the patient‟s full name, address, gender, date of birth, quantity of the drug dispensed, number of refills ordered, and date of the prescription. (§ 11165, subd. (d).) Data obtained from CURES can be provided to “appropriate state, local, and federal public agencies for disciplinary, civil, or criminal purposes and to other agencies or entities, as determined by the Department of Justice, for the purpose of educating practitioners and others in lieu of disciplinary, civil, or criminal actions.” (§ 11165, subd. (c)(2)(A).) At the time of these proceedings, the statute provided that “CURES shall operate under existing provisions of law to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of patients.” (§ 11165, former subd. (c).) Section 11165, subdivision (c) now states: “(1) The 2 operation of CURES shall comply with all applicable federal and …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court