Considerations On The New Florida Opioid Counseling Law

The Florida Legislature passed HB 451 requiring that every patient who may be exposed to an opioid in treatment be counseled on non-opioid alternatives.  The law became effective July 1, 2019. 

The law also requires the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a document for patient distribution.  DOH has now published a brochure that the law requires to be given to every patient receiving opioids. 

As a result of this law, health care practitioners must do the following:

  1. Inform the patient of non-opioid alternatives for the treatment of pain.
  2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of non-opioid alternatives.
  3. Obtain a history from, and access risk of, the patient for potential opioid abuse.
  4. Provide the patient with the DOH non opioid pamphlet.
  5. Document the non-opioid alternatives discussed.

Please keep in mind that ASCs may potentially have greater liability exposure for the actions of anesthesia providers verses the surgical staff while the patient receives care at the ASC.  The flyer clearly indicates that non-opioid anesthesia alternatives are included in the items to be discussed and that any patient scheduled to undergo opioid anesthesia must receive the brochure and the counseling.

Since the responsibility for both the counseling and the resultant therapeutic decisions fall on both the surgeon and the anesthesia provider, an ASC may desire to serve as a facilitator for compliance with the requirements.  You may want to set up a procedure whereby the patient may receive counseling from the anesthesiologist on-site prior to the procedure.

ASCs might consider documenting the receipt of the brochure and the counseling in the patient’s medical record if appropriate to the patient’s care.  Additionally, your ASC may want to consider verification that the patient has been counseled by the surgeon, particularly if the patient is to be discharged with a prescription for opioids. 

FSASC members may share ways in which they are facilitating compliance with this new law on the member forum

 This information is not a substitute for obtaining competent legal advice on this and other licensure matters.  Please seek a qualified attorney to advise you.