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In May 2018, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-22 Clinical Practice for Opioid Prescribing, which limits the number of opioid pills a physician can prescribe. The Bill addresses a variety of healthcare providers, including podiatrists, dentists, and even veterinarians, and provides clear guidelines on the number of pills permitted and under what circumstances a prescription may be given. Generally speaking, healthcare providers may only prescribe a “seven-day supply of opioids to a patient who has not had an opioid prescription in the last twelve months” by that healthcare provider. You can read Senate Bill 18-22 in its entirety here. The limitations addressed in the Bill do, of course, have exceptions. Healthcare providers are encouraged to use their discretion when determining if a second seven-day refill is appropriate. Additionally, limits on the initial prescription do not apply if the patient has chronic pain that lasts longer than 90 days, has been diagnosed with cancer and is experiencing cancer-related pain, has post-surgical pain that is expected to last more than fourteen days, or if the patient is undergoing palliative care or hospice care focused on providing the patient with relief from symptoms or to improve quality of life.

Although a violation of Senate Bill 18-22 will not be considered negligence or contributory negligence per se, it can result in a cause of action against a healthcare provider, so it’s important to be familiar with the limitations related to opioid prescribing.