KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Police Wear Hats Of Drug Counselors, Social Workers In Face Of Growing Opioid Epidemic

In other news on the national crisis, a judge waives a California state law in order to allow registered nurses to administer overdose antidote to inmates. And Kaiser Permanente makes moves to review opioid prescriptions.

The Washington Post: As Opioid Overdoses Rise, Police Officers Become Counselors, Doctors And Social Workers
The nation’s opioid epidemic is changing the way law enforcement does its job, with police officers acting as drug counselors and medical workers and shifting from law-and-order tactics to approaches more akin to social work. Departments accustomed to arresting drug abusers are spearheading programs to get them into treatment, convinced that their old strategies weren’t working. They’re administering medication that reverses overdoses, allowing users to turn in drugs in exchange for treatment, and partnering with hospitals to intervene before abuse turns fatal. (Zezima, 3/12)

The Associated Press: Feds Override California To Aid Inmates With Drug Overdoses
A federal judge overrode a California state law on Friday to help combat a growing problem of inmates dying from drug overdoses.U.S. Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco approved waiving state law to allow licensed vocational nurses to administer the overdose antidote naloxone, which can reverse respiratory failures from opioid overdoses. (Thompson, 3/10)

Kaiser Health News: HMO Doctors Take Pains To Slash Opioid Prescriptions
On a summer afternoon in 2009, eight Kaiser Permanente doctors met in Pasadena to review the HMO’s most prescribed drugs in Southern California. Sun blasted through the windows and the room had no air conditioning, but what unsettled the doctors most were the slides a pharmacist was presenting. “We were doing so much work treating people with hypertension and diabetes, we thought those drugs would be on the list,” said Dr. Joel Hyatt, then Kaiser’s quality management director in Southern California. (Quinones, 3/13)

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