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Massachusetts attempt at curbing opiate addiction
The Massachusetts state legislature just passed an opiate addiction bill intended to begin curbing opioid addiction. Deaths from heroin overdose are on the rise. In the midst of this opioid epidemic, public health officials are looking for ways to curb opiate abuse. Now, lawmakers are stepping into the fray. With the debt on Massachusetts House bill H.3944, state legislatures are attempting to limit the prescription of opiate medication to a length of 7 days. Should other states follow suite????? Lets take a look at the break down of Massachusetts House bill H.3944, provided by Waismann Method.
UNDERSTANDING THE MASSACHUSETTS OPIATE ADDICTION BILLMassachusetts House bill H.3944 underwent considerable debate and more than 80 amendment proposals before being passed unanimously on February 10th. The bill was designed to be a comprehensive plan to combat Massachusetts opiate addiction. Key provisions of the bill include:
- Limitations on physician prescribing practices. Currently, physicians may prescribe opioids within their discretion as a medical professional. The Massachusetts bill requires that doctors writing an adult a first-time prescription for acute pain provide no more than a seven-day prescription for opioid medications. Patients under the age of 18 may not receive an opioid prescription for longer than seven days. Although there are exceptions for chronic pain or pain due to cancer, this significantly curbs doctors’ ability to write extensive prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
- Mandatory evaluations for individuals undergoing overdose. When a person presents to the emergency department suffering from an overdose, the patient must undergo a mandatory mental health evaluation before being discharged. Although the patient must consent to getting treatment, the mental health professional would provide a thorough evaluation that includes treatment recommendations. This provision is designed to increase patient access to effective treatments for opiate abuse.
- School instruction about drug addiction. The Massachusetts bill requires schools to provide instruction on the effects of drug addiction to all students and student-athletes.
- Physician rationale for prescribing. Currently, physicians may write a prescription for opioid painkillers without making a note about why that treatment was needed. The new bill would require physicians to make an official treatment note in the patient’s medical record that states why the painkiller prescription was needed. This measure is intended to cut back on over-prescribing by some physicians.
- Central database for availability of treatment beds. Advocates for patient rights have long complained that it can be difficult to find a hospital with enough treatment beds to admit new patients. An amendment to the Massachusetts opiate addiction bill requires the state to create a central database that allows the public to identify the availability of services in real time. This will be a boon to patients who have difficulty getting the help they need.
- New commission to examine Massachusetts opiate addiction treatment centers. An amendment was adopted to create a new commission to investigate state-licensed addiction treatment facilities. This is intended to characterize the effectiveness and best practices, giving patients increased information about life-saving measures.