Proposed Rules Could Change Painkiller Prescribing

Dec 15, 2014

Rhode Island health officials are considering new regulations governing how health care providers prescribe painkillers. So far this year, 212 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental drug overdoses, most involving opioids, according to the health department.

If adopted, the regulations would require prescribers– including doctors, dentists, and others—to sign an agreement with their patients about the risks of taking opioids like OxyContin or Vicodin. Prescribers would have to register with the state’s prescription monitoring database. And they’d have to see that patient at least once a year. Those are just a few of the requirements health care providers came out to oppose.

Donna Policastro represents the American Nurses Association of Rhode Island.

Donna Policastro, representing Rhode Island nurses, says the proposed regulations are unnecessary.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

“The proposed regulations create unnecessary liability and practice burdens that will only serve to hinder the practice of nurse prescribers, while offering little to or no additional benefits to the profession.”

Advocates for people in recovery from addiction support the new regulations, saying they will help prevent more overdose deaths.  They included Jonathan Goyer, a young man in recovery from opioid addiction.

“I’ve lost my father 10 years ago to this addiction, and I’ve lost my brother five years ago, both to opioid addiction. I believe the state can help minimize these situations from happening. And in my opinion these regulations are a step in the right direction in preventing overdose.”

Jonathan Goyer is in recovery from opioid addiction; he says the proposed regulations could help prevent more overdose deaths.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Goyer says he got hooked on Vicodin he was prescribed after a dental procedure. A representative of the Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts also spoke at a hearing today in favor of the proposed regulations.

Read the proposed regulations here.