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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: November 16, 2015 02:28 PM
From: Representative Rosemary M. Brown
To: All House members
Subject: Regulating the Prescribing of Controlled Substances in Hospital Emergency Departments
Prescription drug abuse and misuse is a growing epidemic throughout the United States. According to a recent report, 20 to 30 percent of opioids prescribed for chronic pain are being misused, and approximately 5 million Americans are abusing prescription opioid pain relievers.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, in collaboration with the PA Department of Health and the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, adopted new guidelines for pain treatment in emergency rooms. The guidelines recommend appropriate treatment to relieve pain for emergency room patients and to identify individuals who may be abusing or are addicted to prescription opioid drugs so that they can be referred to treatment. While these guidelines are a crucial step in fighting prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth, it is important to ensure these guidelines are being implemented in all Pennsylvania emergency rooms.

In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that will codify these guidelines by prohibiting emergency providers from prescribing long-acting opioid painkillers in emergency rooms and places a limit on discharge prescriptions. Additionally, patients whose behavior raises a provider’s concern for addiction will be referred to treatment.

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation. It is vital that we seek to ensure that patients suffering from chronic pain get the relief they need while also minimizing the potential for harmful consequences.

Introduced as HB1699