Waltham lawmaker wants
to hold hearings after death of girl
The Patriot Ledger
As the father of two young boys, Rep. Peter Koutoujian of Waltham can’t imagine letting his child get as sick as Rebecca Riley without doing something about it.
As a legislator, he plans to do something to prevent deaths like Rebecca’s from happening again.
Koutoujian wants to hold hearings on improving the state’s system for monitoring the medical care given to children such as Rebecca Riley, the 4-year-old girl who died in Hull in December from an overdose of prescription drugs. Her parents, Michael and Carolyn Riley, are charged with murdering her.
Koutoujian said he hopes to work with the House Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse to hold a hearing next month on children’s mental health and medication issues.
“If the safety net had been finer, we wouldn’t have lost this girl,” Koutoujian said.
Koutoujian wants to look at the Department of Social Services, the girl’s pharmacist and her physicians to find the reasons why she and her family fell through the cracks of the system.
Weymouth Sen. Robert Hedlund agreed that the Legislature should act.
“There is a never-ending series of breaches in the safety net for kids, but the Department of Social Services is never going to be fool-proof,” Hedlund said. “We’re an overly medicated society to begin with”
Koutoujian said that although it is highly unusual to hear of a bipolar diagnosis in a 2-year-old, some of the problem could stem from inappropriate prescription refills.
“We need to work with with prescription monitoring program within the Department of Public Health,” Koutoujian said. “We need to try to protect them a little more. The children cannot say no, they cannot monitor themselves.” Rep. Garrett Bradley of Hingham agrees with Koutoujian’s call for a better monitoring system. He is co-sponsoring a bill that would put the Department of Public Health in charge of a comprehensive electronic prescription monitoring system.
“New York monitors the prescriptions of all doctors. It’s comprehensively linked to a central database,” Bradley said. “These hearings will be a help in moving this bill forward.”
Kristen Walsh may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.