New law restricts opioid prescriptions; makes more work for doctors and patients

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Lorraine Tornquist was hooked on opioid pills for more than a decade. She suffered kidney and liver failure, went to rehab five time and detox a couple of times. She also went to jail. She admits it would have been harder to ger her pills had Nevada law AB474 been in effect. The state probably would have figured out her addiction right away.

"I have chronic pancreatitis and I was introduced to pills from doctors when I was 19," Tornquist said.

At 31, she's now clean.

The Controlled Substance Abuse Act, which went into effect January first, hopes to stop patients like Tornquist from doctor shopping.

"I agree with it, It's very easy for people to get around the multiple doctors by going to urgent care, the emergency room, going to another part of town," she said.

The law requires:

  • Prescribers to run patients though a state-wide database to make sure they don't have mulitple prescriptions for opioids from different doctors.
  • Patients will not be assessed more carefully for a possible risk of addiction.
  • Prescriptions may be limited in days and dosage.
  • Patients will have to sign a consent form for using opioids

But the new rules have created more paperwork and red tape for doctors and patients.

"They're going to put more of an administrative burden and responsibilities, documenting the medical records," said Edward Cousineau, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners.

The board's subcommittee has been meeting to work through some uncertainty with the new law including how doctors should be disciplined.

"That's caused a little concern, a little angst among some of our licensees," Cousineau said.

Dentist David White said there's more work for him, but he says it's worth it.

"This is a good thing. Yes of course it's difficult for us to go ahead and implement, change is hard but it doesn't mean change is bad," White said.

White said he prescribes an opioid about once a day. Now he and other medical professionals are now prescribing other alternatives.

"For years and years and years we defaulted to going to opioids but now we want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem," he said.

The new law might have stopped Dr. Robert Rand's illegal pill mill which killed at least one patient.

Nevada is leading the way for this type of legislation. Not all states have followed suit. Tornquist said that leaves a loophole open. She said it's easy to doctor shop just across state lines.

"You can just take a trip to the doctor's office on vacation. I got pills in Hawaii on vacation," Tornquist said.

And she said it's still very easy to buy pills online.

More info on Opioid abuse in Nevada

Understanding the opioid crisis and state stats



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