Hospice and other home health care nurses may not be protected under the law when it comes to picking up certain scheduled narcotics for patients in their care in Illinois. A new law is being put forth that could address this potentially serious oversight within the state. The legislation was introduced by State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) that will clarify specific components of the law currently in place and stipulate that licensed home health care nurses can, in fact, legally transport a schedule narcotic to a patient when they pick it up directly from a pharmacy.
The bill is referred to as Senate Bill 689 and aims to make clear provisions for an advanced practical nurse, practice nurse, or registered nurse who is licensed under the Nurse Practice Act, who also provides specific hospice care or home health care services to any individual who requires certain scheduled narcotics to be able to pick up that medication from the pharmacy and deliver it directly to the patient’s home. The main stipulation with regard to this law has to do with acting as an agent for the patient.
According to Ted McGinn, a health law attorney, the current law only protects the patient for transporting scheduled narcotics when he or she possesses a prescription from a licensed doctor, but does not offer any such specific protections for nurses providing care for them.
Ted McGinn said:
“Today home health care is a large component of the overall health care delivery system. It is critical that health care practitioners are able to effectively carry out their duties,” said McGinn. “Our objective, with the help of Senator Murphy, is remove any legal obstacles that prevent the caregiver from delivering prescribed medications, including controlled substances, to patients who may not otherwise be able to get the medicine in a timely manner ().”
Mr. McGinn addressed the Senate Criminal Law Committee on February 18, 2015 in support of this legislation, answering specific legal questions that some of the lawmakers had regarding the current legislation and proposed changes.
There was no mention of any specific nurses or other licensed home health care workers who had been caught in the potential legal quagmire, nor about any pending cases brought forth by legal authorities.
The bill passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee on February 18th and now moves to the Senate floor for a vote. There was no word on when a vote might be placed on this legislation.