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The constitutional right of privacy in medical records is not implicated by the State's seizure and review of medical records under a valid search warrant without prior notice or hearing.
After several suicides and overdoses were linked to a doctor's prescriptions of controlled substances, the medical records of 16 of his patients were sought because an extraordinarily large amount of controlled substances had been prescribed to them. The records were sealed and placed in evidence at the sheriff's office pending further order of the court. Notices were either personally served upon or mailed by return receipt to each patient pursuant to Fla. Stat. ch. 395.3025 and 456.057 (2004). Ten of the 16 patients objected to the seizure of their records. The trial court ruled, inter alia, that the State was not permitted to use a search warrant to seize and seal the medical records. The State appealed.
Did the trial court err in suppressing the patients’ records?
The appellate court held that the patients were provided notice and were given an opportunity to be heard while their records remained sealed post seizure. Therefore, because the patients' privacy rights were protected, the trial court erred in suppressing their records. A hearing was required to determine if the records were relevant to the criminal investigation of the doctor.