Omaha World-Herald (03.28.13)
The Nebraska legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted 32 to 3 to give first-round approval to Legislative Bill 528 (LB 528), which would authorize healthcare providers to give expedited partner therapy for STDs. The practice allows doctors to prescribe antibiotics for the sexual partner of an STD-infected patient, even if the partner refuses to come in for a doctor’s exam. CDC recommends expedited partner therapy because if only one partner receives STD treatment, that person can be re-infected by the untreated partner.
State Senator Sara Howard sponsored the bill to combat high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Nebraska. In 2011, Douglas County, which includes the city of Omaha, had the highest chlamydia incidence in the United States. Nebraska also ranked worse than 31 other states for gonorrhea incidence in 2011. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause health problems for the patient, and can result in blindness, premature birth, and “life-threatening” infections for babies born to women with chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Bill opponents objected to providers prescribing antibiotics without examining the partner. The bill requires doctors to call partners to verify names and to ask about drug allergies prior to writing a prescription. Others opposed the bill because it allows providers to treat minors for STDs without notifying parents. The committee rejected an amendment to require notification of parents of minors. Since 1972, Nebraska law has allowed physicians to treat minors for STDs without notifying parents.
Nebraska’s medical community, pharmacists, and public health clinics support passage of LB 528. Although many providers already prescribe expedited partner therapy, public health clinics have been reluctant to adopt the practice without the guidance of state law.