Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear approved legislation this week that modifies the state’s new prescription drug law, to make it easier for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers to receive painkillers.
The original law, designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse, had the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for patients in institutional settings to obtain pain relief, the Associated Press reports.
“House Bill 1, which passed last year, was a remarkable and comprehensive effort to create real and substantial changes to upend prescription drug abuse, and it’s working,” Governor Beshear said in a news release. “Unlicensed pain management clinics have closed up shop. Prescriptions for the most addictive drugs have dropped every month since implementation. However, we recognized that a few issues needed to be worked out for the comfort of the most pain-stricken patients and for the practical needs of physicians, particularly in in-patient and long-term care settings.”
The new rules modify the diagnostic and treatment protocols for controlled substance prescribing, particularly to accommodate patients with acute pain management needs, such as end-stage cancer care.
House Bill 1, signed by Beshear last May, requires that all pain clinics be licensed, specifies requirements for ownership and employment, and obliges Kentucky’s licensure board to develop regulations for pain clinics. It gives law enforcement easier access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database. Doctors must examine patients, take full medical histories, and check electronic prescription records before writing prescriptions for opioids.