Emergency rooms should no longer hand out painkiller prescriptions like oxycodone, according to new guidelines issued by the city today.
In an effort to fight prescription drug abuse in the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented an outline of how emergency rooms should – or should not – prescribe serious painkillers.
He made the announcement, part of his Mayor’s Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse created last year, at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and labeled painkiller abuse “a burgeoning epidemic.”
“Prescription painkillers can provide life-changing relief for people in dire health situations, but they can be extremely dangerous if used or prescribed improperly,” he said.
The guidelines are voluntary but will be used in all public hospitals, he instructed.
Under the guidelines, emergency rooms should not prescribe long-acting opioid painkillers, can only prescribe up to three days worth of supplies and will not refill prescriptions that are lost, stolen or destroyed.
Bloomberg said these should reduce abuse and overdosing.
“Prescription opioid painkillers can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, who has emphasized that New York City is facing a prescription-pill crisis, said painkillers generate huge profits for drug dealers, morphing a personal drug addiction issue into a public safety issue.
Bloomberg also created a task force to track public health and safety data about prescription pill abuse.