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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 7, 2019 09:41 AM
From: Representative Joanna E. McClinton and Rep. Todd Stephens
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Children By Requiring Parental Overdose To Be Reported
We have all seen it on the news, in newspapers, and on social media sites- the epidemic of drug overdoses in the Commonwealth. There is no denying that drug overdoses are on the rise in Pennsylvania. Coroners and medical examiners in Pennsylvania reported 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths in 2017. This number does not account for drug overdoses that did not lead to death. Drug use and overdose affects the lives of our friends, families, co-workers and the community, but most importantly drug overdose affects the lives of Pennsylvania’s children. It is the effects that a parent’s or caregiver’s overdose has on a child that concerns me the most.

This is why I am proposing legislation that would amend the Domestic Relations Law to mandate the reporting of actual or suspected drug overdoses suffered by a parent, guardian, caretaker, or other custodian of a child under the age of 18.

The reality is that many individuals experience multiple nonfatal overdoses during which they interact with first responders and the healthcare system prior to succumbing to a fatal overdose. This legislation would require a health care provider or first responder to immediately report an actual or suspected drug overdose to appropriate county agency in an effort to ensure that any child in the care of the person experiencing the overdose, would be accounted and cared for. The term “county agency” is currently defined in domestic relations law to mean a county children and youth social service agency.

Currently, incidents of overdose are reported if a health care provider or first responder renders emergency medical service, including the administration of Naloxone, for an actual or suspected drug overdose presented by a parent, guardian, caretaker or other custodian of a child under the age of 18 or by any other person residing in the parent’s home. Reports are made in accordance with current mandatory reporting guidelines. My legislation would define drug overdose as “the intentional or accidental ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than what is recommended or generally practiced, and which my result in severe toxicity or death”.

My goal is to ensure that every child affected by their parent’s or guardian’s overdose is taken care of as well as the person experiencing the overdose. This can be accomplished by requiring that drug overdoses are reported to county agencies.

Please join me in doing what is in the best interest of Pennsylvania’s children and their parents or caretakers by supporting this legislation.

Introduced as HB773