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Senator Beach Introduces Legislation To Fight Opioid Epidemic On-Site at NJ Hospitals

Senator Jim Beach congratulates Congressman Donald Norcross on his succession to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Establishes Protocols for Hospitals Related to Substance Use Disorder Treatment & Referrals, Creates County-Issued Medical ID Cards

TRENTON – Senator Jim Beach (D-Burlington, Camden) today introduced legislation to help fight the opioid epidemic through two bills designed to address potential addiction-related points of contact at hospitals or with health care providers.

The first bill would require acute care hospitals to ask patients who are 18 years of age or older whether they have a substance use disorder or are in recovery from one when providing any health care service. Under the bill, hospitals would be required to establish official facility-wide or unit-specific protocols for providing treatment or referral to treatment for patients who indicate that they have a substance use disorder or are in recovery. Such protocols would be available to the public upon request.

“Addiction is a widespread disease that requires our strongest efforts to continue to fight in New Jersey,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden). “This bill will help establish treatment protocols at the first point of contact in an acute health care facility so that patients get the most appropriate and effective treatment possible.”

A second bill, also introduced today, would require counties to establish a procedure for residents to voluntarily obtain a medical identification card. Under this bill, the medical ID cards would be designed by the Commissioner of Health, would include a photo of the cardholder, and would include such information as the cardholder chooses, including but not limited to the cardholder’s blood type, current medications, medical devices or implants present in the cardholder’s body, allergy information, illnesses or health conditions, and medication restrictions. Counties would be permitted to charge a fee for providing the card, not to exceed the actual cost to the county of providing the card.

“In certain circumstances, especially in emergency situations, individuals may not be able to communicate to health care providers any pre-existing medical conditions or their wishes about treatment, and having this ID card would be beneficial in facilitating any necessary treatment,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden). “This would especially be helpful in cases when an individual is in recovery from substance use disorder and does not wish to have any narcotic drugs administered.”

The bill provides for civil and criminal immunity and immunity from administrative disciplinary action for any acts undertaken in good faith in connection with the bill or the provision of medical care in reliance on the information included in a medical identification card. Unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information, however, would be a crime of the fourth degree, and theft of a medical identification card would be a crime of the third degree.

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