Study: 62 opioid prescribers had ‘abnormal’ patterns


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has identified 62 opioid prescribers with what it calls “abnormal prescribing patterns” in a study released Wednesday.

In May 2018, then-Tennessee governor, Bill Haslam, directed the comptroller’s office to complete a study about the opioid prescribing patterns of Tennessee doctors, nurses, dentists and others.

According to the state, Comptroller researchers with its Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) worked to identify prescribers whose patterns were “significantly statistically abnormal,” and to investigate what disciplinary responses, if any, were taken by the licensing boards in response.

The report identifies those 62 prescribers based on their 2017 prescribing patterns. The identification is for further investigation a does not alone indicate inappropriate prescribing.

“Prescribing data can be used as a tool to find potentially inappropriate prescribing, but a fuller range of information is necessary to determine if an identified prescribing pattern is inappropriate,” Comptroller OREA officials said.

Forty-nine of those identified in the report (79%) have not been disciplined by their subsequent licensing board and are not currently under investigation.

Eight of those identified received some level of discipline and the department is still developing cases against the remaining five.

One of the key conclusions of the report is that for half of those identified in the report, no query had been opened by the Department of Health; which suggests the department could improve in regards to monitoring prescribers. Also, the report highlights the fact that from opening a query to receiving a ruling from the board, the disciplinary process can take years to complete.


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