New Tennessee Law Requires Physicians to Use Drug Monitoring Database

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A new Tennessee law aims to lessen drug overdoses in the state by requiring physicians to use a statewide drug monitoring database to check patient information prior to prescribing, according to a Times Free Press report.

As part of a law that takes effect in April 2013, Tennessee physicians must consult the state database every time they begin a new episode of treatment for a patient requiring an opioid prescription and at least once per year thereafter. The database has been up and running since 2007, but only about a third of physicians are registered to use it, and even fewer regularly check patient information.

The new law also requires pharmacists to upload prescription information every seven days rather than every 30 days, and allows state officials to determine which physicians are prescribing the most painkillers.

State officials said they hope the changes will make physicians more aware of the number of prescriptions they write and allow them to target patients who are "doctor-shopping" to buy pain medication for an addiction or to resell.

Tennessee follows Kentucky in its passage of a law requiring physician use of a state prescription drug monitoring system, and other states have considered similar legislation this year.

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