Health News Florida on Thursday published an article with the headline "DOH Forgot to Invite Public," concerning a workshop that the agency held early Monday on privacy issues concerning the state's prescription drug database.
The summary linked to an article by Watchdog.org, a foundation-funded non-profit that funds coverage of state governments, headlined "Public board avoids inviting public to public meeting." The gist was that the Department of Health had made it difficult for the public to learn of the meeting because it omitted the time and place of the workshop from the press release and failed to post the announcement on the agency's public-information website.
Ashley Carr of the DOH press office sent this response via e-mail Thursday evening:
"The Florida Department of Health provided notice regarding the July 8, 2013, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program public rule workshop through the Florida Administrative Weekly as required by law, and the information was also posted on the E-FORCSE website: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/pdmp/home.html."
(E-FORCSE is an acronym for Electronic-Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation Program. It is more commonly called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or simply the drug database.)
Carr continued: "Approximately 50 people were in attendance and given full opportunity to provide commentary and offer feedback on how the agency can strengthen accountability and security measures in the areas of access, privacy, and database maintenance and operation. The Department will use the input received during this week's workshop, along with written comments submitted by COB July 22, 2013, to draft text for discussion and input at a second workshop to be scheduled in August.
"Additionally, the full audio recording of the meeting is available on the E-FORCSE website at http://www.eforcse.com/RuleDevelopment.html. The Department welcomes public feedback during these workshops and encourages members of the public and stakeholders alike to attend and participate in the rulemaking process. The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts."