Wash. cracks down on long-term opioid prescriptions

Doctors are no longer allowed to prescribe more than 14 days’ worth of opioids, and they must first look for alternatives


OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington State is tightening rules on opioid prescriptions in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses.

KOMO News reported that instead of regularly prescribing 15-30 day prescriptions, doctors can only prescribe opioids for up to 14 days, but must first seek alternative treatment plans, according to new rules recently rolled out by the state Health Department. 

The rules also require doctors to check patients for risky behavior when they return for a refill.

Washington State is tightening rules on opioid prescriptions in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses. (Photo/AP)
Washington State is tightening rules on opioid prescriptions in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses. (Photo/AP)

"I'm excited in the fact that hopefully prescribers will feel more confident and comfortable with the new rules and that patients who need the help will get the help” Erin Henderson, a nurse practitioner who helped write the rules as part of the state’s Opioid Task Force, said.

Jason McGill, health policy advisor to Gov. Jay Inslee, said the rules are meant to help curb the opioid crisis while also making sure patients who need the medication get proper treatment.

"These rules are a delicate balance of trying to do what's best for the people generally and for people with chronic pain,” he said.

The rules also stress that the safe disposal of leftover prescriptions is vital.

"We are all here because the opioid crisis is taking a very heavy toll on the lives of our friends, our family members and communities," DOH Secretary John Wiesman said.

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