Jessie’s Law Passed by US Senate to Help Those with Substance Abuse Issues

Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, both of West Virginia, have announced that Jessie’s Law has been passed by the Senate. The legislation was designed to ensure doctors are provided with details of a patient’s previous substance abuse history if the patient has provided consent for the information to be shared. The bill will now proceed to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce for consideration.

Jesse’s law is named after Jessica Grubb, from Michigan. Jessica was in recovery from opioid abuse when she underwent surgery for an unrelated issue. She had been struggling with addition for nearly seven years, but had not taken opioids for the 6 months prior to surgery.

Her parents, who were at the hospital while their daughter underwent surgery, had repeatedly told doctors not to prescribe opioids as painkillers unless their daughter was under the very strict supervision. Despite these warnings, her discharging physician gave her a prescription for 50 oxycodone tablets, a commonly-prescribed synthetic opioid. Jessica overdosed on the pills on the very night she was discharged, and died as a result. Her discharging doctor claims that he did not receive the information about her history of opioid use, and Jessica failed to inform him herself. 

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Manchin and co-sponsored by Capito, will ensure physicians are better informed about the medical histories of recovering addicts, while preserving the privacy of patients. The new bill states a “history of opioid use disorder should, only at the patient’s request, be prominently displayed in the medical records (including electronic health records).” The Department of Health and Human Services will be required to publish guidelines on the appropriate circumstances in which healthcare providers are permitted to prominently display details of a patient’s history of opioid use on their medical record.

Following the passing of the bill, Jessie’s mother Kate Grubb said, “I am ever so grateful for the passage of Jessie’s Law; it eases a mother’s aching heart that this law will save other lives and give meaning to Jessie’s death.”