As the country is gripped by an opioid addiction crisis, the role of hospices in the epidemic has come under a spotlight. A new bill in Kentucky would aim to address some of those issues by improving the disposal of medications in the hospice setting after a patient’s death.
A rising problem surrounding hospices has to do with the procedures and policies for disposing of medications, including opioids, after a patient has died. In most cases, there are no procedures in place, leaving the disposal up to family members. This sometimes leads to the medications being taken or sold. Documented cases of family members stealing patients’ pills have also occurred, according to a 2017 report from Kaiser Health News.
The Kentucky legislation, House Bill 148, would require hospice providers to have an agreement with the patient that allows the provider to destroy and dispose of the medication after the patient’s death. In cases where patients refuse to sign the agreement, the hospice provider can notify authorities about the narcotics after a patient has died.
Opioid use is contributing to the death of more than 115 Americans daily, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Kentucky is among the states with the highest opioid abuse rate. From 2015 to 2016, the drug overdose death rate increased 12%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Written by Amy Baxter