The Phoenix Flyer

New law: Doctors must give patients non-opioid alternatives for pain

By: - January 7, 2020 12:00 pm

Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Physicians have been prescribing opioids to treat pain due to a variety of medical conditions.

But now, Florida law requires health care providers to talk to patients about safer alternatives to opioids for pain treatment. The goal is to reduce the number of people who develop opioid dependency and abuse the drug.

According to the latest data from a state report, the death toll in Florida has increased over the years due to opioid abuse.

Consequently, Florida lawmakers proposed legislation in the 2019 session to address the opioid epidemic, requiring that healthcare providers must notify patients about non-opioid options to treat pain during non-emergency situations only.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law last year, and it went into effect July 1.

Doctors also must give their patients an informational pamphlet created by the Florida Department of Health.

The department’s “Alternatives to Opioids” pamphlet includes a list of advantages and disadvantages of using non-opioid medications, therapies and other treatments to combat illnesses.

It also lists several over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol, aspirin, among others, which are deemed safe alternatives as well as certain prescription drugs. Therapy options such as acupuncture, physical and occupational therapies are listed in the pamphlet, and are considered non-invasive treatments.

The Florida Department of Health suggests that healthcare providers, such as physicians and hospitals, post the educational material on their respective websites.

The department lists other requirements for doctors such as “discussing whether the patient is at a high-risk or has a history of controlled substance abuse or misuse and discuss the patient’s personal preferences.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.