Vanderbilt said it and other pain management clinics in Tennessee are seeing an influx of patients.
The largest pain management group in Tennessee announced it was shutting down its dozens of clinics across the state after Governor Haslam’s opioid bill went into effect.
“What’s happened over the last month is that those two coordinated events caused a lot of patients to seek help here at Vanderbilt or other pain institutions,” said Dr. Chris Sobey, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.
Dr. Sobey says tens of thousands of patients will be without care after the clinics close. He worries some will turn to illicit drugs to fill the gap.
“It’s not that we need to be prescribing more pills, but we need to be having an honest and open conversation with these patients,” said Dr. Sobey. “And really have an understanding of the public health implications of what a radical change in opiate prescribing can manifest as.”
Health officials are also concerned for the patients who don’t have easy access to care; that they may turn desperate.
“You would have people committing suicide if they had to live in pain every single day with no solution,” said Amber Mohr with Addiction Campuses. “You don’t want anyone living in chronic pain because then it becomes a mental situation.”
She also worries about the unintended consequences of more regulations.
“If you have a pain management clinic that is operating unethically and is busted due to these increased regulations that leaves patients who have legitimate chronic pain needs in a real pickle,” she told News 2.
In a statement, Comprehensive Pain Specialists said it was closing its clinics because of “significant regulatory and operational uncertainty.”
The company’s former CEO, John Davis, was also indicted in federal court for Medicare fraud back in April.
News 2 asked if the indictment had anything to do with the shutdown and CPS did not answer our email.