Beginning on January 1, 2018, doctors in North Carolina will have to change the way they prescribe painkillers. A new law has been passed in the state that limits the number of pills a patient can get during their first visit to a doctor.
Doctors in North Carolina will now be limited to prescribing opioids for acute pain for no more than five days. Acute pain may be the result of a muscle injury or broken bone. If a patient has had surgery, a medical provider may prescribe painkillers for no longer than a week. This is for an initial prescription only. A doctor may refill or adjust a prescription after the initial dosage if they deem it is necessary to do so.
Patients who need long-term care are not bound by this new law. Those dealing with cancer or other pain-causing ailments may be given prescriptions for opioids on a more consistent basis. Governor Cooper signed the bill into law in June. The purpose of the new law is to try to limit or put an end to the number of patients becoming addicted to drugs. There is also a desire to stop pills from being released to the street.
Overdose rates spiked by 800 percent across the United States last year. Other states may look to North Carolina in the near future and write similar legislation.