A small step forward against the opioid epidemic

July 2, 2018
Amid the continued chaos and destructive policies coming out of Washington, DC, here’s one glimmer of hope from your nation’s capital.
A few weeks ago, I shared the story of Jessie Grubb, who died from an overdose in March 2016.
Jessie was in substance use recovery and went in for routine surgery. Her doctors were informed 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 enormous consequences of hospitals and pharmacies not having access to a patient’s full health history.
Last month, in a rare bipartisan moment, the House overwhelmingly passed my legislation—the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. This legislation will help patients like Jessie by making sure that medical providers have access to the full medical history of people suffering from substance use disorders. The bill now advances to the Senate for a vote.
We still need better treatment options for people in recovery, alternative pain management for patients with chronic pain, and continuing education for health care providers on the dangers of over-prescribing, but this legislation is a small and important step in addressing the opioid epidemic.
Earl Blumenauer