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Prescription Opioid Forgery: Reporting to Law Enforcement and Protection of Medical Information


Reprint requests to: Scott Fishman, MD, Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95819, USA. Tel: 916-734-6824; Fax: 916-734-6827; E-mail:



To review confidentiality requirements of prescribers who become aware of a forged prescription.


A case is reviewed in which a prescriber believes that a prescription has been forged.


The literature and law related to prescription forgery and confidentiality are reviewed. Although prescription forgery is a crime, the prescriber's responsibility for reporting to law enforcement is not clear under current state and federal law. Federal laws and regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), do not permit prescribers in all circumstances to disclose prescription fraud to law enforcement.


Under common circumstances, HIPAA may prohibit prescribers from reporting prescription forgery to law enforcement. However, collaborating with a dispensing pharmacist may offer a lawful pathway to reporting prescription forgery. State legislature may consider laws that clarify the reporting responsibilities of prescribers in cases of prescription forgery.