Over the past year local leaders have been meeting to discuss our areas drug problem under the leadership of the Darke County Chamber of Commerce. As a result of those discussions Ohio law has been updated to ensure medical professionals and mental health professionals are able to communicate regarding a patient suffering from drug addiction.
Local leaders know it takes a team to help a person suffering from addiction. We know Indiana has been able to get help for those addicted to drugs by holding them for treatment involuntarily. Bringing this same approach to Ohio may help ensure those addicted receive help when it is needed.
Based on recommendations from these local leaders the state budget includes a provision that allows professionals in Ohio to communicate regarding the care of a patient who has suffered from a drug overdose. Under the new provision in the state budget a doctor who treats a patient experiencing a drug overdose may refer them to a mental health professional to address their drug addiction. If the doctor chooses he of she may also contact the mental health professional that they referred the patient to and ask them for their help in providing care for this very serious problem.
Whether or not the patient chooses to communicate with the mental health professional their choices will be reported back to the doctor who referred them for inclusion in their medical record. Although this is a very small step it is an important step because Ohio’s laws previously prevented this type of collaboration when treating the addicted.
By including a record of the patients willingness to seek help from a mental health professional in the medical record, Ohio doctors will have yet one more tool in their medical bag when they are working to get the addicted help. A record indicating a patients unwillingness to get help may be used to provide support for holding a patient under Ohio’s involuntary holding law if a doctor continues to see the same patient for drug addiction on a regular basis. Providing these tools will allow a doctor to use their professional judgment to take steps to get the best available help for a person who needs help with their drug addiction.
In western Ohio we are very fortunate to have proactive people willing to work as a team to fight Ohio’s drug addiction problem. Continued efforts such as the one led by the Darke County Chamber of Commerce will have positive impacts on our efforts to reduce drug addiction in Ohio.
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.