WV Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Established for Hospitals

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ELKINS, W.Va. – Everyone is aware of the opioid crisis in West Virginia and during the 2018 Legislative Session, elected officials passed a piece of legislation they hope will help curb some of the opioid abuse in the state.


Senate Bill 273 or the ‘Opioid Reduction Act’ went into effect June 7, 2018, is aimed at alleviating some of the opioid issues facing our state. With the new law, Davis Medical Center and Broaddus Hospital officials wanted patients to be aware of the provisions of the Law and how it could affect prescriptions written at Davis Health System sites, emergency departments or physician’s offices.

Some major areas where patients may be impacted include:

-Visits to the emergency departments and to direct care practitioners. Physicians in emergency departments and direct care practitioners are limited to the prescriptions they write following the passage of Senate Bill 273. They are limited to writing a 4-day supply for opioids.

-When pediatricians, dentists and optometrists need to write a prescription for their patients, they are now limited to writing prescription for a 3-day supply of opioids.

-All other practitioners, which includes surgeons following surgery, are limited to writing prescriptions for a 7-day supply of the lowest effective dose of opioids.

When a patient is seeking treatment for pain from a physician, the practitioner is to consider treatment other than opioids such as physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic care or pain management. The new legislation also mandates that West Virginia insurance companies provide coverage for 20 visits to these alternative therapies.

Senate Bill 273 includes a non-opioid directive form that individuals may sign, informing their health care provider that the patient shall not be given or prescribed an opioid. Patients may access the non-opioid directive online atwww.davishealthsystem.org. Once there, click on patients & visitors, then patient resources and then opioid consent form. When printed and completed, one copy of this Voluntary Non-Opioid Directive should be kept by the patient and a second copy is to be kept in the patient’s permanent medical record.

Davis Medical Center summarizes its stance on pain management with the following statement: “In our current environment, we are now pain specialists. Narcotics are not a ‘never’ proposition, and are certainly the only option for some patients, but our prescribing practices must be evidence-based. The federal and state boards have established guidelines and it is the goal of our population health team to make sure we are all apprised of these changes as they occur.”