OLYMPIA — Come November, all medical, dental and other health-care professionals will begin following new rules designed to cut misuse and abuse of prescription opioids.
The rule changes may affect patients who are prescribed opioids for any reason other than cancer.
Washington state health officials conducted a news conference at Gov. Jay Inslee’s office Monday to get the word out about new state legislation that focuses on improving opioid prescribing and monitoring.
State Health Officer Kathy Lofy talks about how the rules will affect patients who use prescribed controlled substances.
“One of the things that patients may notice when they see their provider is first of all there may be more conversation about opioids and more questions being asked before opiates are prescribed,” Lofy said. “There may be shorter prescriptions than people are used to for acute pain conditions.”
She said health officials want to “give the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time.”
Alden Robert, a physician who is chairman of the Washington Medical Commission, explained how the new rules will affect doctors and health-care providers.
“It hasn’t reached the majority of providers right now and we expect to have more reactions in the future,” Roberts said. “However, some of the changes that we will require are really important such as you have to be registered with a prescription monitoring program in this state if you are going to have a license … The other changes that is going to be significant is that surgeons will need to be involved in the prescription monitoring program as well as the movement between acute pain and sub-acute pain.”
Jason McGill, Gov. Jay Inslee’s senior health advisor, says alternatives to prescription opioids will also be encouraged under the new rules.
“Massage, acupuncture, particularly chiropractic care — so we are looking at ways to implement coverage policy in that way and those would be just some other avenues beyond the pharmacy,” McGill said.
State Health Secretary John Wiesman called the opioid epidemic in the state a serious problem.
“We are all here because the opioid crisis is taking a very heavy toll on the lives of our friends, our family members and communities,” Wiesman said. “And it is devastating across Washington and the nation. “There is no single group today that is untouched by this epidemic. Right here in Washington in 2016 we had 694 people die from opioid overdose. And that rose to 739 in 2017. So just stop and think about that. That is more than two people dying in each and every day in our state from an opioid overdose.”