Opioids and the Law: How New Hampshire is Making Changes
Opioids are a strong substance used to assist with pain relief for a number of reasons. It seems prescribers are becoming a bit loose with providing the highly addictive drug to patients which has led to an increase in opioid addiction and overdose in the state of New Hampshire. Because the issue has become an epidemic, the state has ramped up efforts in order to manage the often-prescribed medication.
Hospitals, urgent care facilities and other health care facilities must now work together, revisiting protocols in order to ensure that individuals who are treated do not become addicted to opioids after using the medication. Last year, the New Hampshire Board of Medicine and the Board of Nursing decided to adopt new prescribing rules for opioids. The new rules were created and finalized last year, going into effect as of January 1st, 2017.
It was important to set safe prescribing practices for the substances for physicians and practice registered nurses to follow in New Hampshire. A long list of requirements was created that must be met before a patient can be prescribed an opioid. Opioids are often prescribed to treat noncancer and non-terminal pain.
Before Prescriptions Are Written
Before prescribing, the physician must conduct a history of the patient as well as a physical exam. A risk assessment must be completed and if the medicine is prescribed, then the lowest effective dose should be administered for a limited time frame. A pain treatment plan must be created and a written treatment agreement signed by the patient. The risks of opioids must also be discussed including how one can become addicted to the drug and how overdose and death can occur.
The overall goal is to ensure that opioids are only prescribed to patients in the state due to clinically appropriate circumstances. Patients must be provided with the right tools and information in order to take the medicine correctly and avoid any issue like addiction or a possible overdose.
Attorneys in New Hampshire know all too well the problem of opioid use. Attorneys work with victims of opioid use, individuals who were victims of robbery or abuse due to an individual who was addicted to opioids. Attorneys have also worked with patients, individuals who have been prescribed opioids when it was unnecessary and gained a dependence on the drug.
Purdue Pharma Lawsuit
The opioid crisis is so bad in New Hampshire that the Office of the Attorney General has recently filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, stating the company has engaged in a long-running campaign that was deceptive to create and sustain a market for the drugs. The lawsuit was created based on the consumer protection act of the state. Local doctors claim that reps of Purdue would visit their office at least two to three times a week. The company reportedly downplayed the effects of the drug such as addictive risks, particularly in connection with patients who were being treated for chronic pain.
Overall, the fight against opioids is just getting started. Regulations are being put in place and attorneys are fighting back in order to see fewer patients become addicted to this substance. If you or someone you know has been affected by opioids, seek legal counsel to see if you have a case.
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