To help stem the opioid epidemic, all Georgia doctors will be required to get training on prescribing opioids under a new rule the state medical board approved last week.
"The medical board felt that it was a situation where it was time that we needed to take some affirmative act in trying to assist with stemming the problem that we're currently facing," said Dr. Dan DeLoach, chairman of the Georgia Composite Medical Board and a plastic surgeon in Savannah.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,302 people in Georgia died in 2015 of an opioid overdose. The agency says nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
"One of the ways that we can look at tackling this problem and hopefully bringing some element of solution to it is to educate our physicians," DeLoach said.
The new requirement faced opposition from the Medical Association of Georgia.
Donald Palmisano, executive director of the Medical Association of Georgia, said the association fully supports training for doctors, but mandating requirements for can be a slippery slope.
“When you open up the door for one mandatory CME (continuing medical education), that's where our concern comes in — as to multiple other mandates later on," Palmisano said.
Starting in January 2018, doctors will be required to take 3 hours of continuing medical education on opioid prescription training before they can renew their licenses, DeLoach said.