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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor signs law directing doctors to inform parents about opioids

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 189, which amends the Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities so that doctors discuss with their patients the risks associated with the use of prescription opioid-based drugs.

“Part of our mission and public policy is to empower patients, since it is their right to have correct and complete information about the treatments they receive,” the governor said in a written statement. “The signing of this measure joins initiatives that we are carrying out in the government through the Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration to train thousands of people on the proper management of an overdose. So far the Administration has trained some 14,529 people and delivered 26,118 intranasal naloxone kits, which is a medicine to help reduce deaths from opioid overdose. In addition, educational campaigns and community impact activities are being carried out to help prevent addiction and deaths as a result of the use of opioids.”

According to the law, doctors now must guide their patients about the risks of addiction to and adverse health consequences of opioids, including central nervous system depressants. They will have to provide guidance on the reasons why the prescription is necessary.

They must also educate patients about alternative treatments that may be available in place of the opioid and the risks associated with the use of the medications that are prescribed, such as the risk of developing a physical or psychological dependence on a controlled dangerous substance, and fatal respiratory failure.

Similarly, doctors must inform patients about possible consequences that could lead to the patient discontinuing or interrupting the treatment without the doctor intervening in that discontinuation, interruption or variation, among other specifications.

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