Updated Opioid Use Regulations Now in Effect in Rhode Island

Monday, April 17, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Updated opioid regulations are now in effect in RI
Updated opioid use regulations intended to make the prescribing of opioids safer in Rhode Island are now in effect. The Rhode Island Department of Health made the announcement on Monday. 

“These updated pain management regulations focus on dosing limitations to help reshape how we as healthcare providers had been taught how to approach opioid therapy, and to make sure that we’re only prescribing what’s actually needed for the treatment of acute pain. While we work to minimize unnecessary prescribing of opioids for acute pain, it is essential that patients’ chronic pain needs are appropriately and compassionately treated. Although opioid prescribing in Rhode Island decreased by 16% between 2013 and 2015, which was the largest drop in the nation, the regulations were updated to ensure that acute pain and chronic pain are treated differently,”  said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

The Updated Regulations 

The updated regulations do not affect the long-term treatment being received by patients with chronic pain. Examples of those patients include patients with cancer-associated pain diagnoses and patients in palliative/nursing home care.

Highlights of the updated pain management regulations focusing on acute pain include:

  • Requiring that initial prescriptions for acute pain be limited to 20 doses and no more than 30 morphine milligram equivalents per day;
  • Prohibiting long-acting or extended-release opioids for initial prescriptions for acute pain;
  • Documenting the results of a thorough medical history, developing a treatment plan, and accessing the Rhode Island Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) for relevant prescription monitoring information, all prior to issuing an initial prescription for acute pain; and
  • Requiring continuing education training for prescribers on topics such as appropriate prescribing for pain, pharmacology, potential for dependence, and alternatives to opioids for pain management.


Development of Regulations 

The Rhode Island Department of Health started work on updating the regulations after the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law requiring tighter regulations on opioid prescribing. 

The lead sponsors of this bill were Representative David Bennett and Senator Joshua Miller.

The original regulations were developed in 2015. 

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