When it comes to the opioid crisis, Rhode Island is making the right decisions
By Michael S. WilliamsonPublished September 13, 2018 11:33:25The opioid crisis has taken a toll on Rhode Island, where at least four opioid overdose deaths have been reported in the last two months, the Rhode Island Department of Public Health said in a statement released Thursday.
The state has not had any confirmed opioid deaths this year, the department said, but in 2018, the number of overdose deaths was nearly 2,700, compared with 5,300 in 2017.
In the last six months, at least two Rhode Island deaths were recorded and it appears to be trending upward.
It is the first time in the past decade that the number and type of opioid overdose cases in the state have surpassed the number reported for the entire nation, the state said.
In 2018, Rhode Islanders experienced more than 2,000 overdose deaths.
That number had not increased since 2008.
The department said that the state is taking steps to address the opioid epidemic by improving access to treatment, expanding treatment options and expanding treatment services.
In January, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a guidance to the public on prescribing opioids.
It called for the use of an opioid-specific monitoring plan to identify those individuals with chronic, non-pharmacologic opioid use and to monitor them for potential changes in medication adherence and patterns of opioid use.
The guidance said that a state-approved physician must have access to all available medications and equipment and should ensure that any prescription drugs are obtained from the appropriate health care provider.
It also called for health care providers to obtain a written prescription from the patient before prescribing any opioids.
Rhode Island is one of 17 states to require health care professionals to obtain the written prescription, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its guidelines.
States are also working on an opioid strategy.
In May, California Gov.
Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring all healthcare professionals to have the required prescription to prescribe opioid painkillers, and other states have passed similar legislation.
The governor of Pennsylvania said on Twitter earlier this week that the U-M medical school is testing out a new opioid medication.
The number of deaths in Rhode Island was the highest since 2016, according to the department.