Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids to Former Patients of Closing Pain Management Chain

From the Tennessee Department of Health

Dear Colleagues:
As you may be aware, Comprehensive Pain Specialists (CPS) has recently announced the recent or pending closure of up to 27 pain clinics in Tennessee by July 31st. which currently serve many thousands of patients. While some clinics remain open at present, there is a possibility that a large number of their patients will lose access to pain management specialty care in the coming weeks. The Tennessee Department of Health has contacted the medical directors of these facilities to remind them of their legal responsibility to provide for continuity of care for their patients whose conditions require further treatment.

The Tennessee Department of Health remains concerned that many of these patients may present to emergency departments or outpatient facilities requesting care or prescriptions, if they do not have access to other medical providers. Of particular concern are several hundred patients with intrathecal medication pumps. We urge emergency departments and community providers to prepare for these possible increases, and do everything possible to help handle serious acute medical needs and transition these patients to safe, ongoing care.

Of note, great majority of these patients are on long-term opioid treatment, and therefore do not fall under the recently enacted limitations on duration of new prescriptions (https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/opioids/documents/FAQ%20Implementation%20of%20TN%20Together.pdf). CPS states that they are also ensuring that patient medical records are available on request. For patients who may need referral to substance abuse treatment, the Tennessee REDLINE (1-800-889-9789) is a toll-free information line that provides treatment and other program referrals.