March 28, 2018

Congratulations on Jessie's Law, to prevent another opioid death | WV Gazette Mail

It seems heart-breakingly obvious, now. Display a patient’s opioid problem as prominently as their drug allergies in medical records so treating physicians cannot miss it. This is Jessie’s Law, pushed by Sen. Joe Manchin and included in the omnibus budget bill that recently passed Congress.

By now, readers know the story. Vivacious Jessie Grubb, after dealing with a sexual assault in college in Asheville, N.C., became addicted to opioids. Treatment after treatment, she relapsed. But by October of 2015, her parents David and Kate Grubb had a good feeling. Jessie was starting a new program. “This is going to be the one,” David Grubb told President Obama when he visited Charleston to talk about problems of opioid addiction.

It was the one. In 2016, Jessie was working and in recovery in Michigan. Then a running injury sent her to a hospital for surgery. Jessie swallowed fears that if she told health care workers that she was a recovering addict that she might receive poorer care, but she decided it was too important. She and her parents told everyone at the hospital that she could not have the painkillers. It was in her medical record in eight different places. Still, when the discharging physician sent her home, he prescribed a bottle of 50 oxycodone pills. Jessie died.

When he heard the news, Manchin reached out to his old legislative colleague, Jessie’s dad. Together, Sen. Manchin and Jessie’s parents crafted this law with the potential to prevent many more unnecessary deaths like this.

“We lost this beautiful little girl at the age of 30,” Sen. Manchin told WVVA-TV during a stop in Beckley. “She didn’t die in vain now because we have hospitals that now have a law they have to abide by.”

The Grubbs have channeled their grief into something that will save someone else’s life, probably many more lives, that they won’t even know about. Sen. Manchin acted on an impulse everyone recognizes after a tragedy like this one: “What can we do?” The rest of Jessie’s memory lives on in the very lives of people she never even knew.