As much as one-third of the painkiller drugs abused in the United States come from hospital emergency rooms, a national study indicates. That ought to be all the impetus area hospitals need to go along with voluntary guidelines recommended to curb the problem.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the guidelines this week, after consulting with state health care associations. Emergency rooms are "one of the largest access points for opiate painkillers. We hope that will be reduced to a trickle," the governor explained.
Kasich's guidelines include a variety of steps to reduce the flow of painkillers into the hands of those who abuse them and/or provide them to others for improper use. Doctors would limit both the number and duration of painkiller prescriptions. Emergency room staffers would insist on identification from those seeking painkillers - and would check them against a computerized database.
Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. In 2010, overdoses killed 1,544 Buckeye State residents.
Clearly, implementing the governor's guidelines would help health care professionals comply with their primary credo, "do no harm." Again, area hospitals should embrace and enforce the limits as soon as possible.
Aot reducing federal spending, even a little, seems to have become the top priority among President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress.
Last year Congress and Obama agreed to a $1.048 trillion cap on annual descretionary spending, which is slightly less than one-third of the federal budget. But fat-trimmers in the House of Representatives have adopted a spending plan for the Justice Department, NASA and a few other agencies that is $27 billion less than the target.
This week, Obama vowed to veto that bill if it reaches his desk. Like liberals in the House and Senate, he accused conservatives of breaking the deal reached last year.
But the House bill is for just $731 million less in funding than Obama himself recommended. That is peanuts in the context of total spending.
Still, in Obama's mind, it's the principle of the thing: Conservative lawmakers agreed to only so much in budget discipline, and spending less is unacceptable to the president.
Good heavens. As we have pointed out previously, we have a national debt of $15.6 trillion. Even with cuts already approved, the deficit will top $900 billion next year.
It was outrageous enough when liberal lawmakers complained about the $28 billion in trimming on top of last year's $1.048 trillion deal. But Obama's complaint about $731 million less than the White House asked for originally is even worse.
Somehow, the principle of the thing for Obama and his cronies in Congress has become to avoid any cuts in spending they can forestall. Is it any wonder our national debt now totals about $50,000 for every American?