March 23, 2018

Jessie's Law finally on the books | Beckley Register-Herald

In March 2016, Jessie Grubb walked into a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to have surgery for a running-related injury.

At discharge, a doctor gave the West Virginia native a prescription for 50 oxycodone pills, not knowing that Jessie was a recovering addict.

The next day the young woman fatality overdosed on the prescription pills.

"When she was discharged, the physician just simply did what he always does," said Jessie's father, David Grubb, said during a conference call. "He prescribed oxycodone for a post-surgery patient and sent her home with 50 oxycodone that were just too much of a temptation for her kind of a struggling addict brain."

While Jessie's addiction and recovery history were noted in her medical record and also told to hospital staff by both Jessie herself and her parents, the discharging physician was never made aware and didn't take time to look through her record.

According to David Grubb, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was one of the first people to call the family after Jessie's passing and immediately asked what could be done.

For the past two years, the Grubbs, along with Manchin's staff and other representatives have crafted and attempted to pass language that may help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

That effort, which resulted in a bill called Jessie's Law, was included in the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package that made its way through the halls of Congress Thursday.

The language calls for more credence and recognition given to the notice of addiction by a willing patient who shares that information with a physician or hospital.

"We have to make sure that when they (those with addiction issues) interact with that health care system, the doctors and the nurses, the pharmacies, everyone is up to speed on what is going on," David Grubb said.

During the conference call, Manchin compared the situation with someone entering a hospital with an allergy to penicillin.

"All we asked for is that same type of alertness and attention," Manchin said.

While excited about its passage, Manchin was frustrated in the length of time that Jessie's Law took to make it through Congress, which he called the single most important language included in the spending package.

"It took two years to get the most common sense preventative legislation that will help other families not have to go through what David and Kate (Grubb) and the family have gone through," Manchin said.

While frustrated about the timeframe, Manchin said that he is satisfied knowing that Jessie Grubb's memory is going to live on through the law and the possibility of saving lives, a thought that was also shared and expanded on by her father.

"We believe that this legislation, in honor of Jessie, but really in honor of thousands of families and recovering addicts, this legislation will go a long way to save lives," David Grubb said.

While the language of Jessie's Law is included in the omnibus bill, it will be up to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement the law and to come up regulations and procedures based off of it.

"We're anxious to see this law implemented," said David Grubb. 

By:  Matt Combs