Stronger Support by Medical Community Needed to Address Opioid Crisis

Campbell-lindaBy: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – Jan. 2016

We have an opportunity in coming weeks in the Legislature to send the Governor a comprehensive piece of legislation to further address the opioid crisis.

Legislative action to date includes substantially increased funding for: treatment post-detox; Community Mental Health Centers for both adults and youth; and Recovery High Schools. New laws: require insurance to cover treatment; provide for the bulk purchasing of NARCAN; expand the Prescription Monitoring Program; and make trafficking of Fentanyl a most serious crime.

At the urging of the Governor and the Legislature, the medical community has become more engaged. In almost half of all cases, an opiate addiction results from a medical prescription or an excessive medical prescription. This is why we will be asking the medical community to do more in the Legislation that goes to the Governor’s desk which will contain bits and parts the Governor’s Bill, the House’s Bill and the Senate’s Bill.

This final bill must require a far greater commitment from the medical community to address the crisis in the following ways:

* Immediate reporting by both private and public hospitals and clinics and like facilities of overdoses so that law enforcement can analyze patterns of distribution and target that distribution;
* Require physicians to check the State’s Prescription Monitoring Program every time they prescribe a high-risk opioid and notate the reasons for doing so;
* Require medical facilities to retain custody of overdose victims for 72 hours or until they can be transferred for treatment in a detoxification facility. This will put the brakes upon the revolving door death spiral of emergency room visits for addicts.

Opioid addiction is a serious and most life threatening illness, which in about half of all cases, is the result of a medical prescription or over-prescription of pain medications. If a medical facility discharged a patient suffering from any other chronic medical condition that might reasonably “end their life,” they could be successfully sued for malpractice.
* Require that hospitals, clinics and similar medical facilities inform the patient’s primary care physician when a patient has an overdose. I thank you for your action, your views, and recommendations on how to wage this important battle against opioid addiction. Please do not hesitate to contact me on this or any other issue that is important to you.

State Representative Campbell represents Methuen and Haverhill and serves as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and on the Committee on Ways and Means. She can be reached at 617.722.2000/ or 978.989.0722/