WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Braun and Joe Manchin introduced Tyler’s Law, a bill directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide hospitals with guidance on how emergency rooms can implement fentanyl testing in their routine drug screens. 

The bill is named for Tyler Shamash, a teenager who lost his life to a fentanyl overdose in part because — unbeknownst to the physician — he was not tested for fentanyl upon being checked into the emergency room. Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances are the leading cause of drug overdose deaths, with almost 70 percent of all overdose deaths last year being related to fentanyl.

“Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become the leading cause of drug overdose deaths, devastating communities all over the United States. Passing Tyler’s Law is imperative, so emergency rooms across the nation are directed to screen for fentanyl and we can put a stop to these preventable deaths.” — Sen. Braun

“In the last year, more than 109,000 Americans and 1,490 West Virginians died from drug related overdoses. It’s heartbreaking to lose so many lives to this devastating epidemic and Congress must take comprehensive, meaningful action to address the crisis. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Braun to direct emergency rooms to screen for fentanyl in their patients, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense step to combat drug overdose deaths.” — Sen. Manchin

Currently, many drug screenings in emergency rooms only test for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP) – but not fentanyl. Since fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, it does not show up on most rapid drug screenings. Adding fentanyl to routine drug screenings in emergency rooms could prevent many fentanyl-related deaths, which increased 97-fold in the United States from 1999-2021, according to HHS. U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA), Bob Latta (R-OH) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill would direct the Secretary of HHS to:

  • Complete a study to determine how frequently emergency rooms are currently testing for fentanyl when patients come in for an overdose, as well as the associated costs and benefits/risks, and
  • Issue guidance to hospitals on implementing fentanyl testing in emergency rooms.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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