NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said new guidelines prohibit city public hospital emergency departments from prescribing long-acting opioid painkillers.
In addition, the emergency departments will only prescribe up to a three-day supply of opioids, and will not refill lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions, Bloomberg said.
Between 2004 and 2010, the rate of opioid painkiller-related emergency department visits nearly tripled in New York City, rising from 55 visits for every 100,000 people to 143 for every 100,000 people, the guidelines said.
The guidelines were designed to reduce prescription abuse and overdose by encouraging judicious prescribing, patient education, referral to primary care and treatment for substance abuse when needed, Bloomberg said.
"The guidelines were also designed to prevent an excess supply of opioid painkillers. We know that 3-out-4 people abusing painkillers obtain them from leftover medications," Bloomberg told reporters.
"In addition to the prescribing guidelines, the Mayor's Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse's led to the creation of NYC RxStat, which will for the first time combine and use relevant public health and public safety data to combat the problem of prescription painkiller abuse. The task force has worked to raise awareness of painkiller abuse through public education campaigns and has worked with the state to create an improved Prescription Drug Monitoring Program."
"Working with healthcare providers and public health criminal justice experts our task force is providing the tools to fight a burgeoning epidemic while protecting legitimate healthcare needs," Bloomberg said.