April 11, 2018

Manchin Asks DHHS Secretary to Work on Jessie's Law Standards | Beckley Register-Herald

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create and disseminate the standards required through Jessie’s Law as soon as possible.

Jessie's Law, included in the FY18 spending bill, aims to help ensure that medical professionals have full knowledge of their patient’s previous opioid addiction if the patient provides that information.

In a letter to DHHS Secretary Alex Azar, Manchin detailed the life of the young woman for whom the law was named — Jessie Grubb.

Grubb, who struggled with opioid addiction, had a surgery for an infection related to a running injury. Her parents told her doctors she was recovering from addiction and asked that she not be prescribed opioids.

Unfortunately, the discharging physician missed this note in her medical record and sent her home with a prescription for 50 oxycodone pills. She died of an overdose.

Manchin wrote, "This language directs you as the Secretary of HHS to 'develop and disseminate standards that would allow hospitals and physicians to access the history of opioid addiction in medical records (including electronic health records) of any patient who has provided information about such addiction to a healthcare provider.'"

He said this measure will help ensure medical professionals are able to take addiction into account when working to provide medically appropriate care, just as they would any allergy or other life-threatening condition.

"These standards could do as much as any other individual effort to save lives in our fight against the opioid epidemic," Manchin continued in the letter.

He asked for the immediate development of the standards, along with quick dissemination. He also requested regular updates on the status of the work.

Manchin concluded, "We lost a great treasure when we lost Jessica Grubb. Together, we can honor her memory and save lives. I look forward to working with you on these critical standards."

By:  Wendy Holdren