Armato, Lopez, Zwicker Bill Requiring Hospitals to Include Opioid Addiction Information with Patient Discharge Papers Approved by Assembly

As part of New Jersey's ongoing, integrated approach to preventing and fighting drug addiction, a bill requiring hospitals to include a warning about the risks of addiction, overdose and death associated with opioids in a patient's discharge papers was approved 78-0-0 Monday by the full Assembly. 

The bill (A-4883) is sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato, Yvonne Lopez and Andrew Zwicker. As per the measure, acute care hospitals would be required to include the information provided that the patient was discharged from the hospital with a prescription for an opioid drug.

"This bill will put safeguards in place to help prevent addiction," said Armato (D-Atlantic). "It is yet another strategy in our ongoing battle to fight this disease."

"In many instances, the time period immediately following a surgery is when patients are in the most pain and exposed to increased doses of opioids in an uncontrolled setting," said Lopez (D-Middlesex). "This bill aims to educate patients at the time when their risk for becoming addicted is higher, because the more pain they experience, the more medication they may take."

"New Jersey, like many other states, is waging an ongoing battle against opioid abuse," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). "We can win this fight through a comprehensive approach aimed at preventing addiction; through awareness and educational campaigns; helping those already suffering from this addiction with compassion and understanding; and providing resources for the thousands of individuals and families impacted."

The information would include contact information for substance use disorder treatment. The Department of Health would develop the informational materials.

This measure would take effect 60 days after enactment, although the Commissioner of Health could take administrative action in advance if necessary to implement the provisions of the act.

The bill cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on February7. A companion bill (S-3342) in the Senate has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior