Latta, Lieu, and Kamlager-Dove Introduce Tyler’s Law
Legislation aims to help better understand fentanyl overdoses and the testing shortfalls occurring in hospital emergency rooms
Washington, December 6, 2023 | Claire Hurley (202-225-6405)
This week, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH05), Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-CA36), and Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA37) introduced Tyler’s Law, bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing fentanyl overdoses in the United States. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to complete a study on how frequently hospitals test for fentanyl in patients experiencing an overdose and to use the results of the study to issue guidance to hospitals on implementing fentanyl testing in emergency rooms. Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX02) is an original cosponsor of the bill. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) plans to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
“In just one year, illicit fentanyl and its analogs claimed 4,137 lives in Ohio and more than 70,000 lives nationwide,” Latta said. “As we continue the fight to curb this deadly epidemic, it’s important that hospital emergency departments and medical personnel are testing for fentanyl overdoses. I’m proud to join Representatives Lieu and Kamlager-Dove to introduce the bipartisan Tyler’s Law, which will help us better understand fentanyl overdoses and the testing shortfalls occurring in hospital emergency rooms. While I recognize this is an important step, there is still much more work to be done to put a stop to this crisis, and I look forward to advancing more bipartisan solutions in Congress to stem the deadly fentanyl crisis.”
“It doesn’t make sense for hospitals not to test for the number one drug killing Americans today,” Lieu said. “I am grateful to Tyler’s mom, Juli, for so bravely sharing her story and shedding light on this issue. Upon hearing her story, I was shocked to learn how common it is for hospitals to omit fentanyl testing for patients experiencing an overdose, and that many physicians are unaware that the tests they run don’t detect fentanyl. The bill we are introducing today will help ensure doctors and hospitals are better equipped to prevent fentanyl-related deaths. Tyler’s Law can save lives, and I encourage every one of my colleagues to support it.”
“No family should have to know the pain of losing a loved one to a fentanyl overdose,” Kamlager-Dove said. “Tyler Shamash was a constituent from my District, and it is a tragedy that he did not get the care that he needed before it was too late. This legislation will protect Americans across the country by making fentanyl testing a standard practice in emergency rooms to prevent overdose-related deaths and save lives. California enacted this at the state level after Tyler’s passing, and it is time for us to amend this gap in care by adding fentanyl to the standard drug panel nationwide. I am glad to join Congressmen Lieu and Latta in this effort to make our communities safer and address the ongoing fentanyl epidemic with concrete action.”
“The night before Tyler died from consuming fentanyl, he was sent to the hospital with a suspected overdose,” Tyler’s mother, Juli, said. “When he got there, they did a drug test and it turned out negative. After he died, we found out it did not cover fentanyl because it was a synthetic opioid. Had we known we could have sent him to a place with a higher level of care, instead of the sober living home where he died. This bill will save lives in situations like Tyler’s, as well as in cases where people are brought into an ER for an overdose of one substance, but they unknowingly consumed fentanyl from a poisoned product.”
Background on Tyler’s Law:
Tyler’s Law is named in memory of Tyler Shamash, a 19-year-old boy who died in 2018 following a fentanyl ingestion. He was not tested for fentanyl upon being checked into the emergency room. His mother, Juli, has been advocating for this legislation and sharing her son’s story to prevent others from experiencing the same tragedy.
Background on emergency room drug screenings:
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.