What We're Reading: Florida Cracks Down on Opioids, Reduces Prescriptions

What we're reading, June 3, 2016: Florida's crackdown on opioid prescriptions is working; some California physicians are uneasy about prescribing lethal doses to terminally ill patients; and Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, shines a spotlight on the real culprit of preventable medical errors.

Florida recently cracked down on opioid prescriptions and the state is seeing results. According to Forbes, those prescribers who were most likely to prescribe opioids have been responsive to the new laws and reduced their prescribing by 13.5%. Only 4% of prescribers accounted for 40% of the state’s prescriptions for painkillers. The remaining 96% also reduced the amount of prescription painkillers they prescribed, but by a much lower percentage: 0.7%.

In California, physicians will be able to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the terminally ill starting on June 9, but that doesn’t mean they will. Some physicians have already told patients they are not willing to help end someone’s life, and Catholic hospitals will not provide prescriptions either, reported The Washington Post. While the law takes effect on June 9, it is unknown when the first prescription could be written as there are some hoops to jump through: patients must have 6 months or less to live, make 2 verbal requests within 15 days of each other, and submit a written request.

In a guest blog for Scientific American, Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote that the biggest culprit when it comes to preventable medical mistakes is our inadequate healthcare system. The recent report that medical errors are the third leading cause of death may make people think the cause is carelessness and “individual sloppiness,” but the reality is that the US healthcare system is not doing well with managing complexity.