New Penn. Law Adds Detox Program to Medical Facilities
Nov. 13—When people overdose on opioids, they may end up in an emergency room.
Their next destination is often back home.
New legislation will help add a stop in between.
A new law includes a provision that creates an emergency drug and alcohol detoxification program to be administered by the Department of Health.
The program will encourage hospitals to create a way for people to detox in a medical facility after being treated for an overdose.
State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-120, Kingston, sponsored the bill. It will allow the Department of Health to regulate emergency drug and alcohol detoxification facilities, something that had previously been the exclusive responsibility of the Department of Drug and Alcohol, which is a smaller department with fewer resources than the Department of Health, he said.
The change won't require hospitals to devote beds to detox, but by making the process easier, it will help health care facilities that choose to do so, Kaufer said.
The proposal was one of several in a package of bills that Kaufer introduced in January to help deal with opioid addiction. Out of that group, this law has been the biggest policy change, he said.
"There's obviously economies of scale within something like a hospital. Do you need to have a separate something or do you need to have access to that, is really the question," he said."People that get treated they just get sent back out in the community. Now, if this program comes up and running in our area, which I expect it to do, people will be able to stay in a hospital setting until they find a treatment center where they can go or a treatment program that they can get involved with."
Exactly how the new legislation will look in practice is unclear now.
"Since it is something that's new, it's a process that's going to take some work. There are continuing conversations with the opioid epidemic as to how we can best treat this. And moving forward, the Department of Health will be working to determine how that's going to happen," said department spokesman Nate Wardle.