Prescription Drug Abuse: Loopholes in New Law
Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in Tennessee. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports there are loopholes in a new Tennessee law that licenses clinics that distribute pain pills. This new law requires all pain management clinics to have a license and follow guidelines about their principle operators. In addition, the law sets limits on how much time medical directors stay on site. To be designated a Medical Director, the person must be a licensed medical doctor or osteopathic physician.
Dr. John Blake, a Chatanooga pain management doctor expressed concerns about the legitimacy of such clinics. He stated, “There are loopholes in the law…. You have chiropractors and physicians who are using [clinics] as a business franchise for the purpose of profit, not the practice of medicine.” Many fear this “for profit” attitude concerning pain pill clinics opens the door for drug abuse, because the focus is on dollars rather than patient care.
255 clinics have received license from The Tennessee Department of Health. About 20 more applications are being processed. The Department has denied licenses to 19 applicants. Most of them had a health care provider with past license violations, or they did not have proper paperwork completed.
The state has issued licenses to doctors serving as medical director to upwards of 11 clinics, even though state law requires the director be present at the clinic for at least 20 percent of the time the clinic is open per week. There are even some cases of medical directors who oversee clinics in multiple sites across Tennessee, with several hours driving distance between each site. These loopholes are raising concerns among many members of Tennessee’s medical community.