Bill requires doctors to get more education on opioids, pain

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 10, 2016 3:46 PM

(Harrisburg) -- One effort at the state Capitol hopes to keep more people from becoming addicted to heroin or other opioids in Pennsylvania.

A Senate proposal requires doctors and other prescribers to get more training, which would be part of the continuing education that doctors and other health care professionals already have to do.

Under the measure from Republican Senator Gene Yaw of Lycoming County, prescribers would have to get four hours of training in safe opioid prescribing and pain management to get licensed.

And they would have to get another four hours of training every two years.

Yaw says at hearings around the state, he's heard what is currently available.

"One of the frightening things that we learned is that there's very little training for doctors in pain management and especially in prescription practices, so that's what we're trying to do here."

More than 80 percent of people who become addicted to heroin report starting with opioids like Percocet or Vicodin.

"And it's kinda, it's similar to what lawyers are required to do with continuing legal education. We want to make this part of their continuing medical education," says Yaw.

Yaw's proposal passed a Senate committee recently, but has been sent to another panel for review.

The powerful Pennsylvania Medical Society, with 20,000 member doctors, supports the plan.

Pennsylvania is also set to get a prescription drug database that doctors will be able to check for a patient's history - but there's no requirement to use it each time an opioid is dispensed.

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