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Tennessee Law Licensing Pain Clinics Has Loopholes

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A new Tennessee law that licenses pain clinics, which is designed to cut down on “pill mills,” has loopholes, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

The law, which went into effect in January, requires all pain management clinics to be licensed, and to follow guidelines about who operates them, and how much time medical directors spend on site. Medical directors must be a licensed medical doctor or osteopathic physician.

“There are loopholes in the law,” said Dr. John Blake, a Chattanooga pain management doctor. “You have chiropractors and physicians who are using [clinics] as a business franchise for the purpose of profit, not the practice of medicine.”

The Tennessee Department of Health has issued licenses to 255 clinics. About 20 more applications are in process, the article notes. So far, 19 clinics have been denied a license. Most of them did not have proper paperwork, or had a health care provider with past license violations, according to state officials.

The newspaper examined the clinics that obtained licenses, and found the state has issued licenses to doctors who serve as medical director to as many as 11 clinics, even though the law requires them to be at a clinic at least 20 percent of the weekly time it is open. Some medical directors have clinics in multiple sites across the states, with several hours drive between them.

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