JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - More than 220,000 adults in Tennessee have used prescription pain killers for non-medical use over the last year. It's a number that continues to rise, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
We talked to U.S. Representative Phil Roe to find out why the problem seems to be getting worse.
He told us part of the issue is that doctors are over-prescribing medications.
Roe said doctors should be doing more check-ups when a patient's pain doesn't get better, instead of giving them more pills.
He told News 5 doctors do face hurdles accessing medical records.
Medical professionals in Tennessee must report what they prescribe to the Department of Health. The information goes into a database for doctors to look at in the future to make sure a patient isn't receiving the same medication from multiple doctors.
Roe told us the information isn't always current.
"It ought to be real time so that when you write that prescription, enter into your electronic health record, you can find out real time, is this patient also getting the prescription down the street or in another county?" said Roe.
He told us changing that would make a big difference.
Roe said it's also important to train medical students about proper prescribing practices.