US rep offers bill to add addiction history to EHR to combat opioid misuse

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In response to the opioid epidemic, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, MA, PhD, R-Pennsylvania, has introduced the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety (OPPS) Act, which allows physicians to review patient information regarding previous addiction treatment through electronic health records (EHRs).

The current 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 2 prevent physicians from reviewing patients' addiction treatment histories. This rule allows patients who might have had a previous opioid addition to unknowingly receive medication that could trigger a relapse. The OPPS Act would modify Part 2 to provide physicians access to a patient's full addition treatment history through their EHR.

"This year there will be more overdose deaths than there are names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a devastating trend that is projected to continue past 2020. Thousands of American lives are at stake," said Murphy, who is also  a practicing psychologist and mental health policy expert. "We cannot keep pretending that the current system, our current approach, is working. It's time to modernize addiction treatment in America."

Specifically, the OPPS Act would simplify Part 2 regulations on confidentially from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by while still preventing the disclosure of records that may lead to a patient’s prosecution.

"Right now, information about a patient’s addiction treatment is prohibited from being shared with doctors. This deadly segregation of medical records is wreaking havoc on our nation’s ability to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis," said Murphy. "You cannot treat the whole patient with half of their medical record. In order to help turn the tide on this crisis and prevent more drug overdose deaths, physicians must have access to their patient's entire medical history. The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act will allow doctors to deliver optimal, lifesaving medical care, while maintaining the highest level of privacy for the patient."