The Dentists Insurance Company (TDIC) has developed a resource to help prescribers follow a new requirement in California when prescribing Schedule II drugs to minors.
Before a prescriber issues the first prescription to a minor for a controlled substance including an opioid, the prescriber must discuss specific information with the minor or the minor’s parent or guardian, as required by Senate Bill 1109.
The new form from TDIC, “Consent to Prescribe an Opioid to a Minor,” covers the following required discussion items:
- The risks of addiction and overdose associated with the use of opioids
- The increased risk of opioid addiction to individuals who are suffering from both mental and substance-abuse disorders
- The danger of taking an opioid with central-nervous-system depressants including alcohol and benzodiazepines
Available in English and Spanish, the downloadable consent form provides background on the new law, a section for listed medications and doses, facts for consideration for the parent or guardian to read and sign, and a place for the prescriber to certify the discussion took place.
Most professional liability claims include an allegation of a lack of informed consent, according to TDIC risk management analyst Taiba Solaiman.
“Patients argue they would have made a different treatment decision had they known of the possibility of a negative outcome,” Solaiman said.
Informed consent is a discussion between the dentist and patient during which the dentist and not just the staff educates the patient about the diagnosis, nature of the treatment, alternative treatment, options, and the benefits, risks, and consequences of each, said Solaiman.
“It is not just a form,” she said. “By law, patients must be informed about their treatment, and obtaining written consent is the best way to protect the patient and the doctor.”
The law does not require the informed-consent discussion when the minor’s treatment includes emergency services or is associated with an emergency surgery and when, in the prescriber’s professional judgement, the discussion would be detrimental to the minor’s health or safety or would violate the minor’s legal rights concerning confidentiality.
Also, the law specifically allows the Dental Board of California to require continuing education that covers the risks of addiction associated with the use of Schedule II drugs. In the coming months, the board will discuss what such a requirement would look like. The California Dental Association says it will work with the board and update its members about its progress.