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Legislation would allow patients to say ‘no thanks’ to pain pills

Florida continues to struggle with the opioid epidemic.

Legislation filed Thursday would give patients “the right to decide … whether to refuse an opioid drug in a doctor’s office or hospital.”

The bills (SB 630, HB 451) are sponsored by Sen. Keith Perry of Gainesville and Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood, both Republicans.

The measures would authorize the use of a document called an advanced directive, similar to those that spell out people’s wishes about their end-of-life care.

“Far too many Floridians are struggling with addiction, and we must continue to look for ways to address the problem,” Perry said in a statement.

The bill requires the Department of Health to develop a new form: The “voluntary non-opioid directive form.” Patients will also be allowed to ask their health providers for a substitute pain treatment medication that is a non-opioid.

“Over the past few years, we have passed several measures that have reduced the amount of opioids that can be prescribed, we have better tracking measures in place through our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and we have cracked down on pill-mills,” Perry added.

“This measure would provide patients and providers with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their treatment options.”

Here’s more from the press release:

Florida continues to struggle with the opioid epidemic and for ways to address this national crisis that claims approximately 116 lives a day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Research shows that many suffering from opioid dependence were first exposed through a legitimate prescription from a health provider who was treating them for pain, an injury, surgery or a dental procedure.

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“It is our hope that this legislation makes a difference in the lives of Floridians and the families who have loved ones struggling with a substance use disorder,” Plakon said.

“There are alternatives to opioids and patients should have the right to make their own decisions about the type of pain treatment they receive based on their circumstances.”

The bill also does the following:

— Holds pharmacists harmless if they fill an electronically transmitted prescription for an opioid drug, even though the patient might have given the provider a copy of the executed form.

— Subjects a provider to discipline by their licensing board if they fail to comply with the patient’s form.  However, it holds them harmless from civil or criminal liability and they can’t be deemed to have violated the standard of care if they refuse to prescribe, order or administer an opioid drug pursuant to a patient’s executed form.

— Holds emergency room providers harmless from civil or criminal liability or from being deemed to have violated the standard of care if they prescribe, order or administer an opioid drug to a person when they have no knowledge of the existence of an executed form.

The bill will apply to doctors, podiatrists, dentists, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician’s Assistants.

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