Prescription guidelines another step

Published 9:37 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ohio continues to battle aggressively the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, but now we must enlist the help of neighboring states.

Gov. John Kasich and his task force have instituted statewide guidelines for emergency rooms and acute care facilities when it comes to prescribing narcotic pain medications since a significant percentage of the drugs on our streets come from emergency room visits by individuals who are experts at playing the system.

According to state data, more than 39 percent of all opioids prescribed in the U.S. come from emergency departments. Nationally, this statistic increased from 23 percent in 1993 to 37 percent in 2005.

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Although the ultimate decision about how best to provide medical care remains in the hands of physicians, these guidelines can certainly go a long ways toward curbing abuse. The guidelines include reminders on what drugs to avoid routinely prescribing, as well as points to consider when analyzing treatment options.

But for this legislation to have any real impact here in Lawrence County we need Kentucky and West Virginia to get on board as well by adopting comparable guidelines. We would like to see our lawmakers and Kasich work with these leaders to make this a reality.

Individuals facing serious medical issues should be able to get the care they need at the emergency room but these should not be considered quick “fixes” at the taxpayers’ expense for those who are addicted to drugs.

This legislation is another weapon in the war against prescription drug abuse and can help ensure that individuals visiting our hospital emergency rooms truly need to be there.