RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidential death in this country. The opioid epidemic fuels those numbers, making up about a third of those deaths.
In Nevada, state lawmakers and the governor's office are trying to cut down opioid abuse with the Nevada Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Act, which goes into effect January 1, 2018.
"Anywhere where you are going to receive a controlled substance for the treatment of pain. So that could be in an emergency room or a hospital setting, or in your primary care office," says Elyse Montroy, Health and Human Services Policy Analyst, when asked where we will see these changes.
The act, Assembly Bill 474, is the state's attempt to stop opioid abuse through guidelines for health care providers when prescribing opioids, as well as their patients.
As a patient you will be asked to sign a patient consent form indicating you know the benefits and risks of using a controlled substance. For first-time prescriptions, physicians must show a bona fide relationship with the patient, a diagnosis, and treatment plan.
The opioid prescription is written for no more than 14 days for acute pain. No more than 90 days of pills will be prescribed to the first-time opioid patient.
After 90 days the physician must provide an evidence-based diagnosis, cause of pain, and a complete risk-of-abuse assessment. There are also guidelines for patients who receive 365 days worth of opioids. Hence the name "Prescribe 365 Initiative".
"And it could be reasonable for you to receive a year's worth of medication. What we don't want to see is at the end of 90 days you've received 200 days of medication from multiple prescribers or even one prescriber," says Monroy.
While the state acknowledges opioids are highly effective and medically necessary, there are inherent risks.
With this act, it is hoped both physician and patients have the information they need to move forward to discover in each individual case if the benefits outweigh the risks.
The Nevada Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Act also calls for hospitals and prescribers to document drug overdoses or suspected drug overdoses.
This will allow the state to see in real time what is going on in Nevada, instead of waiting perhaps two years for Centers for Disease Control to analyze and release those numbers. The state board of heatlh will set up those guidelines early in 2018.