US Senate bill would give patients more control about listing addiction history

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill before a U.S. Senate committee would change privacy regulations on medical records for individuals with an addiction.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act earlier this month. The legislation is named after a Charleston woman who died of an opioid overdose.

Grubb lived in Michigan at the time of her death in February 2016. She was recovering from seven years of heroin use when she underwent hip surgery.

A discharging doctor, unaware of Grubb’s circumstances, provided Grubb with 50 oxycodone pills. She died from an overdose the day after leaving the hospital.

The legislation would change existing privacy regulations to prevent doctors from accidentally giving opioids to people in recovery.

Manchin told reporters despite Grubb and her family telling doctors about her history, the information was never included on Grubb’s chart.

“This bill would protect that from ever happening,” he said. “This bill allows a patient to have control. Some patients might not want that information known. That’s fine. That’s up to the patient.”

Capito called the bill “a step in the right direction” in removing the stigma around opioid misuse.

“Enacting the Legacy Act in Jessie’s memory would ensure that all members of a patient’s treatment team have access to a person’s history of addiction, which would ultimately help us improve care coordination,” she said in a press release.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will first consider the bill.

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