Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act to address the opioid epidemic by ensuring that medical providers have access to a patient’s full medical history if they suffer from substance use disorder.
The legislation mirrors S. 1012 reintroduced in the Senate by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) named the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act. Both bills are intended to be a bi-partisan attempt to correct language in patient privacy laws that would allow the medical community to access substance use disorder treatment records the same as they do all other records.
“It’s time that we stop stigmatizing those struggling with opioid abuse and give physicians the tools they need to help their patients,” Mullin said. “Mental health and physical health have been treated in a silo for too long. Our bill breaks down those barriers so the doctor can treat the whole patient. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues so that we can provide 21st-century care to those who need it the most.”
The bill also incorporates language that would safeguard patients from any unauthorized invasion of patient privacy or discrimination and outlines strong enforcement penalties for both.
“It is a disgrace that doctors are treating patients, in the midst of the opioid crisis, without being able to obtain and understand their full medical history,” Blumenauer said. “If substance use disorder treatment is not included in your entire medical records, then they are not complete. It makes care coordination more difficult and can lead to devastating outcomes. This bill works to remove the stigma that comes with substance use disorders and ensures necessary information is available for safe, efficient, and transparent treatment for all patients.”
The bill stems from the story of Jessica Grubb, a West Virginia woman who was recovering from drug addiction when a running injury sent her to the hospital for surgery. There, a physician prescribed her opioids as part of her recovery. Grubb died of an opioid overdose the next day.
“This important legislation passed the House alongside the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act last congress, but ultimately did not become law. This is one of the most significant policies we can address to continue our efforts to combat the opioid crisis,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said. “I look forward to swift passage of this bill so doctors can safely and effectively treat patients with substance use disorder while ensuring the necessary privacy protections remain in place.”