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Bill approved to create overdose-review team

Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:10 PM

CHARLESTON -- A bill that establishes a team of professionals to track and analyze fatal prescription drug overdoses and other suspicious deaths unanimously cleared the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 108 creates a new fatality review team consisting of existing teams that analyze child-, pregnancy- and domestic violence-related fatalities. The new review team will still track and analyze those deaths but also will be charged with reviewing prescription drug overdoses.

It will consist of public health officials, law enforcement officers, physicians, nurses, prosecuting attorneys and drug abuse counselors.

The team will review all deaths in which the cause is linked to an unintentional prescription drug overdose as well as document trends and patterns related to the illegal sale and distribution of prescription drugs. The information will be compiled in an annual report issued to the governor.

It will be allowed to review medical and mental health records but it will be prohibited from calling witnesses or taking testimony from anyone involved in an overdose investigation.

The legislation now heads to the Senate so it can vote on changes made to the bill in the House.

The House also completed legislation Wednesday on Senate Bill 158, which encourages the Division of Highways to adopt policies that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation during the planning, design and construction of all state roadways. The bill passed by a vote of 92-7.

Supporters say the bill, known as "complete streets" legislation, is designed to make state roads safer and more accessible to all users.

The bill was one of the top priorities this session for the state chapter of the AARP. The organization pushed for a similar measure last year, but it fell short of passage because DOH officials raised concerns that it was an unfunded mandate.

The bill also establishes a 16-member complete streets advisory board to improve communication among transportation planners at the local, county and state levels.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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