Ohio lawmakers are pushing a bill they think will reduce opioid overdose deaths by setting prescribing guidelines for doctors and dentists.
Every day in Ohio, eight people die from opioid overdoses, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health. And each day, 84 infants are treated for drug withdrawal in Ohio hospitals. Some Republicans are hoping a bill they are sponsoring will lower those numbers.
Changing current guidelines
Right now, state guidelines on painkiller prescriptions allow for 144 pills for a three-month period.
The bill would change the state’s prescription guidelines to mirror the federal recommendations and allow up to 24 pills over three months. Former state lawmaker Lynn Wachtmann is among those supporting the idea, which he says is working in other states.
“This bill is the first great start, an important start and really, to me, the easiest part of this solution and that is, again, shutting down the pipeline of future addiction with people.”
The bill would also require dentists and doctors who prescribe opioids to go through at least eight hours of training. Scott Weidle of the Dayton area is still mourning his son Daniel, a 30 year old father of three who died from an opioid overdose in 2015. Weidle says new guidelines are desperately needed.
“The Ohio opiate guidelines sets no threshold limits. Having no threshold would be like having no speed limit requirement on the public roadways. That would be like allowing everyone who passed their driver’s training course and received their Ohio driver’s license to use their own judgment to determine what the safe speed limit should be on Ohio’s roadways.”
A word of caution
But doctors are urging caution. Reggie Fields with the Ohio State Medical Association says not all patients have the same needs, so he says lawmakers need to give doctors the ability to dose patients differently.
“Something like this to put some guidelines in place is I think a very fair thing to try to put in place but we need to make sure that we allow that discretion for the physician community so that an individual patient will still be assured that they are receiving the best possible care available.”
Gov. John Kasich is poised to offer his own plan to address opioid abuse in Ohio soon.