Senate Passes Bill on Opioid History in Medical Records

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must develop best practices for displaying patients’ history of opioid abuse in their medical records, under a bill that has passed the Senate.

The goal is to prevent practitioners from inadvertently harming patients by prescribing drugs that could trigger a relapse or worsen their condition. The bill, S. 581, is called “Jessie’s Law” after Jessie Grubb, a woman who had been clean for six months after a seven-year struggle with heroin. She died of an overdose after a doctor – who was unaware of her past problem – prescribed oxycodone for her after she underwent surgery for a running injury.

The bill passed by unanimous consent, meaning that no senator objected. It now goes to the House, where a similar measure, H.R. 1554, has been co-sponsored by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI).

The bill requires the Department to take action within one year, and to consider medical privacy concerns for patients who do not want to disclose their opioid history.

The bill only applies to opioids. There is no requirement for the Department to take action regarding any other types of addiction.

Click here to read the text of the bill.