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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 28, 2016 12:46 PM
From: Senator Gene Yaw and Sen. John N. Wozniak, Sen. Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Regulating the Prescribing of Controlled Substances in Hospital Emergency Departments
In the near future, we intend to introduce companion legislation to a House Bill that will place a limit on discharge prescriptions by emergency room providers. Additionally, patients whose behavior raises a provider’s concern for addiction will be referred to treatment.

To date, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research agency of the General Assembly, has held seven public hearings on the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth.

During the hearings, testimony offered indicated that approximately 80 percent of heroin addicts can trace their addiction back to prescription opioids. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs report also confirmed that health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of prescription painkillers.

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.

We hope you will join us 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 SB1228