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News & Press: General

Senate Passes Bill Mandating Sharing of Addiction History

Friday, September 8, 2017  
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A history of opioid addiction would be required to be displayed in medical records of individuals who have consented. It would also be shared with clinicians and pharmacists, according to a bill approved by the US Senate.

The Senate passed the so-called "Jessie's Law" (S. 581) by unanimous consent on August 3 during a marathon session to tie up loose ends before legislators broke for their previously delayed summer recess. The unanimous consent procedure eliminated the need for debate or a vote.

The bill followed a remarkably fast track after it was introduced in March by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. A companion proposal was introduced at the same time in the US House of Representatives by two Michigan lawmakers, Democrat Debbie Dingell and Republican Tim Walberg.

The law is named for Jessie Grubb, a recovering addict who experienced relapse and overdosed after being given a large quantity of opioids following a surgical procedure by a clinician who said he was unaware of her history.

"We must ensure physicians and other medical professionals have full knowledge of a patient's previous opioid addiction when determining appropriate medical care," said Manchin, in a statement issued after the Senate approval.

The bill calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop standards that could be used by hospitals and physicians to "prominently" display a patient's history of opioid addiction in his or her medical record, but only if the patient has consented to providing the history to a clinician.

The idea is that the opioid addiction history would be considered on par with allergies and other contraindications when a clinician is considering prescribing an opioid. The proposal states that the information should be available to all providers, including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists.

"Jessie's Law" still needs to be taken up by the House.

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