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Congress Targets Misuse Of Hospice Drugs

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Hospice staff can be allowed to destroy sufferers’ unneeded opioids, lowering the danger that households misuse them, in response to one little-noticed provision within the bipartisan opioids invoice headed to President Donald Trump’s desk for his possible signature.

The bill would empower hospice employees to destroy opioid drugs which can be expired, now not wanted by the affected person due to a change in remedy or left over after the affected person dies.

A spokesperson for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of many Democrats who pushed for this provision to be included within the overall opioid package that the Senate handed Wednesday, stated the thought was sparked by Kaiser Health News’ reporting.

Last August, a KHN investigation found that as extra individuals die at residence on hospice, among the addictive medication they’re prescribed are being stolen by neighbors, relations and paid caregivers — contributing to an opioid epidemic that kills a median 115 people a day within the U.S.

The article quoted a Washington state girl named Sarah B. who stole lots of of tablets — Norco, oxycodone and morphine — that have been left on her father’s bedside desk after he died at residence on hospice care. The hospice employees by no means talked about habit or how you can safely dispose of medication after an individual dies, she informed KHN. Hospices have largely been exempt from crackdowns in many states on opioid prescriptions as a result of individuals might have excessive doses of opioids as they strategy demise.

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Under present legislation, hospices can not immediately destroy sufferers’ unneeded opioid drugs within the residence. Instead, they direct households to combine them with kitty litter or espresso grounds earlier than throwing them within the trash (flushing them down the bathroom is taken into account environmentally unsound). Hospice, accessible via Medicare to those that are anticipated to die inside six months, sends employees and medicine to look after sufferers wherever they dwell. About 45 percent of hospice sufferers obtain care in a non-public residence.

In an announcement, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), an business group, applauded the proposed change in coverage: “Granting appropriate hospice professionals the legal authority to dispose of unused medication after a hospice patient’s death would not only alleviate grieving families of this responsibility but also help prevent potential diversion or illicit use of these drugs.”

“Families dealing with the loss of a loved one shouldn’t also have to worry about leftover medication ending up in the wrong hands,” Warren stated in an announcement. “I’m glad to be working with my colleagues to help reduce the number of opioids in circulation by allowing hospice employees to step in and help families safely dispose of these medications.”

The invoice requires hospices to doc insurance policies on the disposal of opioid drugs, and to debate these insurance policies with households. It additionally requires the Government Accountability Office to check hospices’ disposal of managed substances in sufferers’ houses.

The invoice doesn’t specify, nonetheless, what occurs if a household refuses to surrender the medication. By federal legislation, drugs are thought of property of the affected person or whoever inherits that individual’s property after they die.

According to the invoice, a hospice employee wouldn’t want formal written consent from households to destroy the drugs, NHPCO spokesman Jon Radulovic stated, but when a household objects, the employee would go away the medication alone.

Use Our Content This story could be republished totally free (details).

KHN’s protection of end-of-life and severe sickness points is supported partly by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Melissa Bailey:”>, @mmbaily

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