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Florida Nurse Anesthetists Back Law on Opioid Abuse

Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida nurse anesthetists have come out in strong support of a new law meant to curb opioid abuse and slammed doctors for “questioning” the logistics of how to inform patients about opioid alternatives. 

Johanna Newman, president of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, sent a letter to Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees last week noting that her association pushed for the new law (HB 451) and worked with the Florida Medical Association and other groups during this year’s legislative session about concerns they had. Ultimately, she said in the letter to Rivkees, the FMA supported the bill.

“We find it curious that the FMA is now questioning the law given their support during the 2019 legislative process,” she wrote.

Since July 1, physicians have been required to talk with patients about opioid alternatives before providing anesthesia or prescribing, ordering, dispensing, or administering opioid drugs listed as what are known as Schedule II controlled substances. Also, physicians are required to distribute a state-approved pamphlet on alternatives to opioids and document compliance with the law. But Florida Board of Medicine members were told at a meeting this month that problems with the state-approved pamphlet made it nonsensical.

Also, The News Service of Florida reported that the FMA had sent a letter to Rivkees seeking guidance on a number of issues including how often notification needs to be provided upon hospital admissions and whether notification is required if a physician administers a non-opioid-based anesthetic.

“It seems that many of the questions by the FMA complicate a very simple law that has a very simple intent,” Newman wrote in her letter. “HB 451 is a very simple law and its intent is clear. “