In the wake of the nationwide opioid epidemic, elected officials took measures to curb the ease of access to powerful and addictive drugs. Florida mandated that healthcare professionals such as doctors and dentists take continuing education courses on the proper prescribing methodology for opioids. Nearly 25% failed to comply with the law.
The Florida Department of Health now is preparing to send non-compliance letters advising the providers that they have 15 days to take the mandated course or face disciplinary action, agency spokesman Brad Dalton told The News Service of Florida.
“If the department does not receive a response within 15 days from receipt of the notice, a formal complaint will be initiated,” he said.
The new mandate impacts an estimated 114,000 Florida health-care providers.
The mandate was included in sweeping legislation on opioids that put limits on prescriptions for opioids and required providers check a statewide prescription-drug database before prescribing potentially addictive pain medications to patients.
The 2018 law specifically required all health care professionals registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and authorized to prescribe controlled substances to take an education course on opioids. The course covers the current standards for prescribing controlled substances, particularly opiates; alternatives to the standards; nonpharmacological therapies; prescribing emergency opioid antagonists; and the risks of opioid addiction following all stages of treatment in the management of acute pain.
While it’s not fair or worthwhile to speculate for the non-compliance, the fact that 25% of the required healthcare workers in the state didn’t comply is noteworthy and disturbing. It’s not as if this is a minor issue that affects a small portion of the population. People from all walks of life have experienced opioid addiction that in some tragic instances changed or ended their lives. In rural areas of the country, the situation is even more dire.
Physicians and dentists are placed in positions of public trust. They have a fiduciary duty to protect and serve the public. Non-compliance with such an important issue is not acceptable.