By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New statewide guidelines have been issued in Pennsylvania for how pain drugs should be administered to non-cancer patients in emergency departments throughout the Commonwealth.

Dr. Ted Christopher, who was on the governor’s task force that created the new prescription guidelines, says over the last five years there has been an enormous jump in accidental deaths resulting from opiate abuse.

“It’s gotten to be more than motor vehicle accidents,” Dr. Christopher notes, “so a lot of people are really dying from this issue.  I think over the last five years there has been a 570-percent increase in deaths from overdose.  So I think something had to be done.”

As part of the guidelines, he says, emergency rooms would be prohibited from refilling medications or reissuing lost prescriptions.

“So, for example, if a patient who was a chronic back pain patient is getting medications from their primary care physician, then they should not be coming to the emergency room to refill that prescription.”

Christopher, the head of emergency medicine at Jefferson Hospital, says the goal of the guidelines is to protect patients.

“What I think many physicians were doing in the past, unknowingly, was just kind of feeding the habit, feeding the addiction.”

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