Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Clamps Down on Opioid Prescriptions

From ACEP News:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is implementing what it says are industry-leading policies to restrain the abuse of opioid medications among its members, including a requirement that new opioid drug prescriptions written for quantities of longer than 30 days must be accompanied by a medical authorization before coverage is approved. The new policies become effective July 1.

BCBS Massachusetts said in a statement that it developed the new policies after an internal review showed that 30,000 of its members received prescriptions for short-acting pain killers lasting longer than 30 days, “a practice that many experts believe increases the chances of drug misuse, dependency, and diversion.”

Massachusetts has seen a significant increase in opioid-related deaths and hospital stays over the past decade mainly due to heroin use, but in part because of the increased availability, misuse, and abuse of prescription pain killers, according to the health plan.

The new policies also mandate that all prescriptions for a short-acting opioid be obtained from just one prescriber or prescribing group and that scripts must be filled at one designated pharmacy or pharmacy chain. The restrictions appear to go further than those set by other private insurers, which first determine if a potential problem exists through claim reviews before restricting members’ access to opioid coverage.

Disaster program is looking for retired doctors and nurses to join a new emergency medical unit

From Palo Alto Online:

Palo Alto’s citywide disaster program is looking for retired doctors and nurses to join a new emergency medical unit.

It could be hours or days before Palo Alto residents receive transportation for injuries after a disaster, he added. With most fire, police and emergency personnel residing outside of the city, the few on-duty police (about 10) and firefighters (about 29) would be overwhelmed in a disaster.

The specially trained volunteers will fill a gap between care at the hospital emergency room and ground-level emergency response from the volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), he said.

The new medical unit will have two levels: retired nurses and doctors for pre-hospital care and treatment in triage centers; and neighborhood volunteers for treating patients who don’t require a trip to the emergency room.

Lesser-trained persons can act as scribes or in other support roles. The training is more akin to wilderness medicine, Dueker said.