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Michigan opioid law

New Michigan Opioid Law Helps Patients Refuse Potentially Dangerous Narcotics

April 26, 2019

The opioid crisis is escalating, with more people dying from overdoses than at any other time in U.S. history. Despite the new Michigan opioid laws enacted over the last two years, the drug-related death toll continues to rise.   

Here are some of the startling statistics on the opioid epidemic in Michigan:

  • Michigan has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country.
  • At least 2,033 people in Michigan died from opiate overdoses in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available.
  • This translates to 21.2 deaths for every 100,000 people living in Michigan.

In contrast, the national average is 14.6 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people.

Opioid-Related Deaths: 2012 Versus 2017

2012:

  • Deaths from synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl: 72
  • Deaths from prescription opioids: 378
  • Heroin-related deaths: 263

2017: 

  • Deaths from synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl: 1,368
  • Deaths from prescription opioids: 633
  • Heroin-related deaths: 739

Furthermore, researchers report that many people first abuse prescription pain drugs before turning to less costly heroin. Since heroin is often laced with Fentanyl, these users are more likely to die from an overdose.

A New Michigan Law Allows Patients to Refuse Opioids

To help curb the rise of this deadly epidemic, lawmakers passed a new Michigan opioid law that took effect last month. This law allows people to create an advance directive stating they do not want opioids included in their treatment plans. The form will become part of their permanent medical record.

Although people always had the right to refuse opioids, the advance directive is especially important if a patient is incapacitated. In addition, using the form is likely to encourage discussions between patients and their doctors, as well as family members.

Exclusions to the New Michigan Opioid Law

  • The law does not apply to patients who are in hospice.
  • It is not applicable to patients receiving treatment for addiction, which may include prescription opioids.
  • Emergency situations are also excluded. Therefore, if a health care provider believes opioids are medically necessary, the advance directive would not apply.

One drawback is that there is no central database for these advance directives. Therefore, if a patient has a medical emergency away from home, their records may not be accessible.

Other Recent Michigan Opioid Laws

In addition to the advance directive law, Michigan legislators enacted several other opioid laws during the last few years. Here are a few:

7-day limit on opioid prescriptions (Public Act 251)

Doctors are prohibited from prescribing more than a 7-day supply of opioids for patients with acute pain. Physicians are also forbidden from prescribing refills during the 7-day period. However, doctors may use discretion when treating patients with chronic pain or those undergoing major surgery.

Doctor-patient relationships  (Public Act 247)

Physicians must have a “bona fide” relationship with a patient before prescribing controlled substances. The doctor must also provide follow-up care to monitor the patient’s condition and response to the prescribed drugs. 

Opioid education (Public Acts 246 and 250)

Doctors are also required to educate minors and their guardians about the risks associated with prescription opioids. Additionally, medical professionals treating patients for opioid-related overdoses must provide information on substance abuse resources.

To download a non-opioid directive form or for more information, visit www.michigan.gov/opioid. Click on the “Find Help” tab and go to “Additional Resources.”

Michigan opioid law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free no-obligation consultation.

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