The Rhode Island House Health Education and Welfare Committee is considering a bill that excludes chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management”, for purposes of prescribing, administering and dispensing controlled substances by a practitioner.
Democrat Representative Gregg Amore of East Providence introduce the bill at the urging of Claudia Merandi, a Rhode Island woman who has become well known in chronic pain circles for her promotion of the “Don’t Punish Pain Rallies”.
A practitioner, in good faith and in the course of his or her professional practice 12 managing pain associated with a cancer diagnosis, palliative or nursing home care, chronic intractable pain, or other condition may prescribe, administer, and dispense controlled substances, or he or she may cause the controlled substances to be administered by a nurse or intern under his or her direction and supervision without regard to the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
Merandi recently testified before the health, education, and welfare committee.
“I knew things in Rhode Island were going to get bad, but I had no idea they would get this bad. The only way to protect the patient/provider relationship would be with legislation,” she said.
She credits social media with helping raise awareness in her state.
“Two years ago, when I created the Don’t Punish Pain Rally Organization, I was sure to tag Rep. Amore on FB every time an article was posted. Another time I created one post and asked people to share their stories so he could see the horror that was happening around the country.”
Last year, after Merandi met with the chief of her Department of Health, Amore helped get a resolution put through that would acknowledge pain patients need for opioid therapy.
“I had been hounding the ACLU for two years and up until three weeks ago, they told me they couldn’t support the bill. I was surprised when they testified on Wednesday supporting it.”
What happens now? Merandi urges people to submit testimony to the committee so the bill doesn’t die in the committee, which has held it for further study.
What happens in Rhode Island will be another interesting test for the chronic pain community which has been caught in the cross fire between federal and state government concern about opioid addiction and the treatment of chronic pain.