New Law Improves First Responders’ Abilities to Administer Emergency Medications
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
Public policies are often an intricate, nebulous web of legislation, public interests and politics. What might seem to be a simple fix for one policy area through legislation can create the most complicated of policies as lawmakers attempt to rectify a situation.
Experts often hypothesize that as more laws are created, more policies will intersect, creating further complications. Interest groups must carefully watch the creation of new legislation and policies that have the potential to affect other areas of society.
Recently President Trump signed a bill into law, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017 (H.R. 304). It was created to rectify a potentially hazardous situation created by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
DEA Restricted Paramedics’ Ability to Use Opioids without Doctor’s Order
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, prior to enactment of this new law, the DEA had a policy prohibiting paramedics from administering opioid medications without a doctor’s order. The policy was DEA’s attempt to close a gap in the current opioid crisis. Widespread opioid abuse appears to be spiraling out of control, with politicians and public administrators desperate to resolve this crisis.
From the DEA’s perspective, its policy helped cut down on opioid abuse, especially in emergency medicine. There have also been documented cases of people in public safety positions having serious substance opioid abuse issues and gaining access to these dangerous types of medications.
Inability to Use Opioids Impacted Patient Care
Unfortunately, the DEA policy was particularly disastrous for patients in desperate need of certain medications. In emergency medicine, time is an important factor in patient care. The DEA’s policy significantly delayed patient care in numerous cases and created a level of complication without real merit.
New Law Will Allow First Responders to Obtain Opioids through DEA Registration
The new law allows emergency medical services agencies to register with the DEA for opioid use. This law also reduces bureaucratic red tape and redresses the error created by the DEA. As a result, emergency medical services can now easily access the medications they need for appropriate and timely patient care.