Doctors in the Canadian province of British Columbia will no longer be able to deny or refuse to see patients who are seeking opioid prescriptions, the Canadian Press reports.
The ruling by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. updates a 2016 standard which made only recommendations to doctors about dosage and tapering off prescriptions.
The standard was set after British Columbia declared a public health emergency in April of 2016, after opioid related drug overdoses shot up, mainly from fentanyl being cut into street drugs.
The province on Canada’s West Coast recorded the highest number of overdose fatalities in Canada last year, with 1,448 deaths.
College registrar Heidi Otter said the standard was revised after doctors and patient advocacy groups complained that people were either being denied care or abandoned.
Andrew Koster, 65, who uses opioids to treat his lower back arthritis, said after the 2016 provision, he had doctors walk out on him, and was kicked out of an emergency room with his back in serious pain.
“The question in the minds of the general public is that opioids are bad, we’ve got to stop the opioid crisis,” said Koster.
“Now, the pendulum has swung the other way, I believe, so there’s a separation between what’s going on the street, as tragic as it is, and what’s going on with patients. There is sort of a fire wall developing,” said Koster.
This summary was prepared by Dane Stallone, a TCR news intern.