Vermont Prescription Monitoring System Data Request

HIJ Action Lab filed this request with the Department of Health & Human Services of Vermont .
Est. Completion None
Status
Fix Required

Communications

From: HIJ Action Lab

To Whom It May Concern:

Northeastern University's School of Social Justice and Health Equity is interested in the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System ("VPMS"). Specifically, we want to learn more about law enforcement access to the database, the use of an algorithm that produces a risk score to analyze its contents, and the data access and retention rules governing the system. We understand the algorithm was produced by the corporation Appriss.

In order to permit the public to understand how the Department of Health & Human Services is using the VPMS and how it impacts public health and civil liberties in Vermont, Northeastern University's Health in Justice Action Lab is making this request under, the Vermont Public Records Law, §315 et seq., for the following records:

1. Any and all records including information about the algorithm that determines risk scores in the VPMS, including but not limited to its source code, developer documentation, and operator manuals (e.g. Narx Score, Overdose Risk Score);
 
2. Any and all records of de-identified red flag algorithm outputs (e.g. provider red flag, pharmacy red flag, 40 MED red flag) and patient behavioral red flags (e.g., anxious patient demeanor, distance between prescriber and dispenser) with prescriber/dispenser training documentation on how to address the red flags;
 
3. Any record showing the number of patients in the VPMS by quarter and year (2006-present); and

4. Any and all records showing how often law enforcement entities or individuals have requested information or records from the VPMS, or made electronic queries of the system, including but not limited to what types of information or records have been requested, which agencies have made the requests, the percent of requests that were accepted versus denied, temporal trends, the form of the request (e.g. subpoena, warrant, etc.), and whether the requests were granted or denied. 

Because this request involves a matter of public concern and because it is made on behalf of a nonprofit organization, we ask that you waive any fees. If you decide not to waive fees, we request that you permit us to examine, at our election, the responsive documents before deciding which portions to transmit. We prefer the documents in electronic format.

Should you determine that some portion of the documents request are exempt from disclosure, please release any reasonably segregable portions that are not exempt. In addition, please note the applicable statutory exemption and explain why it applies to the redacted portions.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 days as requested by the statute.

Sincerely,

Sarah Seymour

From: Department of Health & Human Services

Dear Ms. Seymour,

Attached please find two records, in response to your request. Several of the requests were identical to the ones we received from you in March of this year, but the answers have been repeated in this letter for your convenience. Further information provided below:

1. Any and all records including information about the algorithm that determines risk scores in the Vermont Prescription Drug Monitoring System, including but not limited to its source code, developer documentation, and operator manuals;
* VPMS does not generate or provide risk assessment scores on patient reports or provider query dashboards.

1. Any and all records of de-identified red flag algorithm outputs (e.g. provider red flag, pharmacy red flag, 40 MED red flag) and patient behavioral red flags (e.g., anxious patient demeanor, distance between prescriber and dispenser) with prescriber/dispenser training documentation on how to address the red flags;
* The only regularly analyzed measures in VPMS would be Multiple Provider Episodes, or "threshold" alerts. These occur when a patient surpasses a threshold number of prescribers and pharmacies within a set period of time. This information is available on Annual Reports, available at http://www.healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/reports/data-and-reports.

1. Any record showing the number of patients in the Vermont Prescription Drug Monitoring System by quarter and year (2006-present);
* Annual Reports 2015, 2016, 2017 and Quarterly Reports 2017, 2018, 2019 available here: http://www.healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/reports/data-and-reports
* 2013_VPMS_Annual_Data_Report.pdf
* 2014_VPMS_Annual_Data_Report.pdf

1. Any and all records showing how often law enforcement entities or individuals have requested information or records from the Vermont Prescription Drug Monitoring System, or made electronic queries of the system, including but not limited to what types of information or records have been requested, which agencies have made the requests, the percent of requests that were accepted versus denied, temporal trends, the form of the request (e.g. subpoena, warrant, etc.), and whether the requests were granted or denied.
* N/A

Sincerely,

Hannah Mason Hauser, MSW
Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS) Manager
[Phone] 802.652.4147
[Email] hannah.hauser@vermont.gov<mailto:hannah.hauser@vermont.gov>

From: HIJ Action Lab

Hi Hannah,

Thank you so much for your help. Could you potentially put me in connection with someone who may have information regarding LE queries into the PDMP.

Best,

Sarah Seymour

From: Department of Health & Human Services

Good afternoon,

As stated, law enforcement is not allowed to have access to the PDMP. The only individuals or entities allowed access to the PDMP are outlined in statute<https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/fullchapter/18/084A> (18 V.S.A. § 4284).

Thank you,

Hannah Mason Hauser, MSW
Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS) Manager
[Phone] 802.652.4147
[Email] hannah.hauser@vermont.gov<mailto:hannah.hauser@vermont.gov>

From: Department of Health & Human Services

Ms. Seymour/MuckRock,

We have already provided a response to your request on 10/24 (attached.) Additionally, Ms. Hauser responded to a follow up question from you on 10/28 (attached.) We consider this request to be closed.

Thank you,

Paul Hochanadel
Health Department Operations Administrator
Vermont Department of Health
cell (802) 585-0209
desk (802) 951-1224

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