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SHM Submits a Letter of Support for Opioid Legislation

May 21, 2018

SHM's Policy Efforts

SHM supports legislation that affects hospital medicine and general healthcare, advocating for hospitalists and the patients they serve.

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Representative Earl Blumenauer                             Representative Markwayne Mullin
House of Representatives                                         House of Representatives
1111 Longworth House Office Building                  1113 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515                                           Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representatives Blumenauer and Mullin:

The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) representing the nation’s hospitalists is pleased to offer its support for H.R. 5795, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. This is critical legislation that will help combat the opioid epidemic.

SHM represents the nation’s nearly 61,000 hospitalists, who are front-line clinicians in America’s acute care hospitals. In this role, hospitalists are leaders of an interdisciplinary care team that manage the inpatient medical needs of patients, including treating patients with substance use disorders or opioid use disorders. They see firsthand the opioid epidemic and its effects on patients and families.

In order to most effectively treat patients, physicians’ need as much information as can be provided. Current laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibit providers from receiving the entirety of a patient’s medical record, in particular, the information surrounding a patient’s addiction treatment. Without this key piece of patient history, providers do not have enough information to prescribe the appropriate treatment or determine an integrated care pathway, which has only perpetuated the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, aims to provide this missing information to providers, while still maintaining privacy for the patient, which will help to begin curbing the ongoing opioid epidemic. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.


Nasim Afsar, MD, MBA, SFHM
President, Society of Hospital Medicine