Johnson City

Study shows veterans may get too many opioid prescriptions

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - New information shows almost half of veterans who served in the infantry come back from Afghanistan with chronic pain and about a third of those will use opioid pain relievers.

The Journal of the American Medical Association study from June 2014, shows this is much higher than use among the general population.

We reached out to U.S. Congressman Phil Roe to find out why this is happening.

Roe told us that when veterans return from service, their medical records are not transferred from the Department of Defense to the VA. He said this can cause duplicate prescriptions to be given out.

Another contributing factor, he said, is that unlike all other physicians, VA doctors in Tennessee do not have to report what they prescribe.

"It doesn't share its prescribing information with the state database so when doctors at the VA write a narcotics prescription, it's not entered into the state database," said Roe.

He told us reporting the medications would help keep track of what veterans are being given.

Roe also said it's also important for all doctors to be re-educated on correct prescribing practices.

We will continue to follow this story with more on over-prescribing at general practices and public hospitals.

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