We have two primary legislative priorities: 1) requiring that Connecticut hospitals report Fentanyl-related deaths that happen after an initial dose of Naloxone and 2) ensuring that Fentanyl test strips are legal and widely available in Connecticut and across the nation.
Mandatory Hospital Reporting
Connecticut law requires hospitals to report adverse events to the Connecticut Department of Public Health within seven days. The DPH then aggregates these reports to help the agency make decisions about the prevalence of particular medical errors and whether harm can be reduced through regulations or further education. If particular events are not reported to DPH, such as toxification deaths following an initial does of Naloxone, the DPH can’t get a true sense of the scope of the problem. Currently, the DPH requires the reporting of specific adverse events such as 1) falls resulting in serious disability; 2) obstetrical events resulting in the death of a baby; and 3) laboratory or radiologic test results not reported to the treating practitioner. We would like to see toxification deaths following an initial dose of Naloxone added to the list of adverse events that must be reported to the DPH. Until we have a sense of the scope of the problem, it is difficult to determine the appropriate response. At a minimum, Connecticut residents should know what is happening in Connecticut hospitals concerning this increasingly prevalent public health issue.
Fentanyl Test Strip Availability and Legality
The DPH currently has a program for the distribution of Fentanyl test strips that is run through the CT DPH HIV Prevention/ Needle Exchange Program. We would like to see the test strip program greatly expanded and better funded. Furthermore, many states continue to criminalize the possession of Fentanyl test strips despite the fact that they help save lives. Across much of the United States, fentanyl testing strips are classified by law enforcement as “drug paraphernalia.” In Florida, for instance, drug paraphernalia is defined as any equipment, product, or material that can be used for “testing” controlled substances, such as fentanyl. This is poor public policy and these laws need to be changed as soon as possible.
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