Physicians across Los Angeles County will soon be notified by the Medical Examiner-Coroner if a patient has died of an opioid overdose.

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Oct. 2 to instruct the Department Medical Examiner-Coroner to begin notifying doctors of such deaths, beginning in December.

Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda L. Solis, co-authors of the new measure, proposed the new policy after a study in San Diego showed that the letters cut down on opioid prescriptions.

Of 72,000 Americans who died from opioid overdoses last year, according to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half died as a result of drugs prescribed by a physician.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.