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Director of HEALTH Issues Emergency Regulations Requiring Health Care Professionals and Hospitals to Report all Opioid Overdoses Within 48 Hours

Providence: Director of Health Michael Fine, MD, has issued emergency regulations requiring Rhode Island health care professionals and hospitals to report all opioid overdoses or suspected overdoses to the Department within 48 hours. The reporting requirement is immediately necessary to combat the increase in opioid overdoses, reduce overdose deaths and assist individuals already addicted to access recovery and treatment.

These data will inform policy decision and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for overdose and targets for access to substance abuse treatment.

"The gathering of timely data concerning all overdoses in Rhode Island will be the cornerstone of stopping drug overdose deaths in our communities," said Dr. Fine. "We can trust the evidence, but we cannot trust drug dealers. The Health Department and all of our partners want to end this public health epidemic now."

Rhode Island is in the midst of a severe prescription and street-drug overdose crisis. There have been more than 70 opioid-related deaths since the start of 2014 in communities all over Rhode Island. Many of these deaths are directly related to the use of fentanyl and heroin, which are opioids. Legal prescriptions for opioids, particularly oxycodone and hydrocodone, have increased in Rhode Island during recent years.

The use of oxycodone and other narcotic painkillers, often as a route to heroin addiction, has been on the rise for the last few years in Rhode Island. In promulgating these Regulations the Director finds that it is necessary to public health to attack the abuse of oxycontin, heroin and other opioids in Rhode Island with the same reporting requirements and rigor directed towards controlling the spread of other epidemics and diseases.

The reporting data will assist the State in identifying and mapping long-term solutions to ending widespread opioid abuse in the State. Further, the collected information will enable the Department to further understand the burden of the epidemic, the number of lives potentially saved by the use of naloxone by community bystanders, first responders and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). At present the only information available concerns opioid-related overdose deaths. To address and fully understand the impact of this public health epidemic the Department needs to understand the risk factors for death among those with similar exposures. This will enable the Department to understand risk factors for death among those with similar exposures or evaluate the potential benefits of programs put in place to respond to the epidemic (e.g. use of intranasal naloxone by EMS-Basics, Police, and harm reduction coalitions, the Good Samaritan Law, and over the counter naloxone at Walgreens).

The Department recently issued Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Opioid Overdose Prevention [R23-1-OPIOID] as emergency regulations. These new Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Opioid Overdose Reporting [R23-1-OPIOIDR] complement and further the intent of the emergency Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Opioid Overdose Prevention by requiring health care professionals and hospitals to include in their reports whether naloxone (Narcan) was administered, the total dosage and the patient response.

The full version of the new Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Opioid Overdose Prevention can be found at: http://www.sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/7738.pdf

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Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 04-03-2014

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