Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) introduced legislation this week to try and reduce opioid related deaths. Emmer, along with Representative Annie Kuster (R-NH-02), wrote the Inpatient Opioid Safety Act of 2021, which is “legislation to improve patient safety, simplify care, and reduce preventable opioid-induced injury and death under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

According to a press release from Emmer, “This bipartisan legislation would modernize patient care in Medicare and Medicaid to better prevent opioid-related injury in hospitalized patients.” They write, “Though opioids are effective in managing pain, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation warns that drug-induced respiratory depression after surgery is a serious patient safety risk.”

“In an inpatient setting, opioids remain the most commonly used form of pain management,” said Emmer. “As a result, drug-induced respiratory depression remains a serious safety risk for patients. With the addition of proper continuous patient monitoring, instances like this can easily be detected and avoided. This legislation will ensure patient safety comes first and reduce preventable tragedies from opioid-induced injuries and death.”

“Beyond the threat of addiction, opioid medications can cause serious complications for patients after surgery,” said Kuster. “Millions of Americans rely on Medicaid and Medicare for treatment, and this bill would modernize post-operative care to prevent opioid-related injury and death. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, and look forward to working across the aisle to get this over the finish line for patients across the country.”

According to the press release, estimates say that around 180,000 individuals experience “opioid-related serious adverse events annually in the inpatient setting.” They wrote that the main reason for the “adverse events” is errors in medication, the “improper monitoring” of the patients is the “second-leading cause of inpatient opioid morbidity.” The release says, “the bipartisan Inpatient Opioid Safety Act of 2021 seeks to change that and help save lives across America.”

Dr. George Blike, the medical director at the Center for Surgical Innovation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, said, “Research done at Dartmouth-Hitchcock over many years has shown that patient harm and deaths caused by the administration of opioids in the hospital are preventable. I thank Representatives Kuster and Emmer for their on-going leadership to take critical steps to improve patient safety across the country.”

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Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to hayley@volente.biz.