The Massachusetts House of Representatives took a number of important measures in addressing the ongoing opioid abuse crisis in the Commonwealth. The House passed comprehensive legislation that incorporated aspects of Governor Baker’s bill, the Senate opioid bill, input from the medical community, and input from families who have been affected by this scourge.
The House legislation requires that practitioners cross check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program prior to prescribing high-risk opiates and limits first time opiate prescriptions to a 7-day supply for adults and a 7-day limit on every prescription for minors. The bill also updates current law, requiring all public schools to integrate the dangers of substance abuse into their curriculum and requires for the first time that hospitals conduct detailed evaluations of every patient who is treated for symptoms of an opioid overdose.
An amendment filed by Representative Campbell was adopted that requires hospitals to notify a patient’s primary care physician of an opiate-related overdose and requires hospitals to record opiate-related overdoses on a patient’s medical record.
“Doctors are working intensely on this issue and this provides them a very straight forward vehicle to improve coordination of care and notify their colleagues of an overdose. This amendment would facilitate critical communication starting with the primary care physician, who has a coordinating and referral role in the patient’s care, and provides an avenue for information sharing,” said Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D – Methuen).
This legislation follows substance abuse legislation passed by the legislature in 2014, and compliments a number of substance abuse initiatives in the FY16 budget. These include $15.2 Million for residential recovery home beds and a new initiative championed by Representative Campbell to allow for bulk purchasing of Naloxone (Narcan) for local cities and towns. The legislature has increased funding to combat opioid addiction by approximately 65.2% since FY12.
“While this crisis continues to escalate, this bill will give certainty to individuals suffering from opioid addiction and their families and our communities that the legislature is committed to working to address this crisis head on,” added Campbell.