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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2018 08:50 AM
From: Senator Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Coroner Reporting Legislation
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation (SB 419 of the 2017-18 Session) requiring county coroner’s and/or medical examiner’s in the state to report in writing to the Pennsylvania Department of Health the death of any person resulting from a drug overdose, giving the time and place of the death and the related circumstances. The reports shall be made on forms prescribed by the Department.

The Department shall maintain the confidentiality of any identifying information received, which shall be used to communicate concerns to regulators and facilitate communication within the healthcare and legal systems about issues that could threaten health and public safety. Information can also be used to prepare aggregate statistics relating to deaths resulting from drug overdoses and include statistics in the annual report required under section 4 (9) of the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act.

During hearings hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania focusing on heroin and opioid abuse in the Commonwealth, several presenters stated there is no uniformity in how heroin deaths are tracked. Sometimes, drug overdoses are listed legitimately as heart failure or are not reported as the actual cause of death to spare embarrassment to the family.

This legislation establishes a uniform manner in which overdose deaths, and specifically heroin deaths, are reported, and I believe this legislation will help provide a more accurate assessment of the heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB971