This shouldn’t happen again.

May 21, 2018

Jessie Grubb died from an overdose in March 2016.

Jessie was in substance use recovery and went in for routine surgery. Providers were informed by her parents that she should not be given opioids except under strict supervision. Upon discharge, however, Jessie was prescribed 50 oxycodone pills. The hospital pharmacy filled the prescription because her substance use disorder treatment history was not in her medical record. That night, she died as the result of an overdose. Jessie’s father, David, said at the time “she went home with, in essence, a loaded gun.”

Her story demonstrates the consequences of providers not having access to a patient’s full health history.

Currently, substance use treatment records are kept expressly separate from a patient’s medical record. This barrier means doctors are treating patients with substance use disorders knowing only part of their health histories, which could lead to poor, and in some cases, tragic patient outcomes.

I’m trying to change that.

My Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act would make sure substance use treatment records are included in the medical record, while also strengthening privacy standards to protect patients’ personal treatment information. Recently, that legislation passed out of Committee, and it’s one step closer to becoming law.

This is a small step forward, but it’s a sign of progress. We need universal health care, including coverage for substance use treatment and mental health services. We need alternative pain management treatments for patients with chronic pain, and we must continue to educate health care providers on the dangers of over-prescribing.

Congress, patients, families, doctors, mental health professionals, and law enforcement must all be part of a comprehensive solution to the opioid epidemic.


Earl Blumenauer

Member of Congress