In my personal injury practice in Tampa Bay, my clients, as part of their treatment for injuries suffered in auto accidents, slip and falls and other negligence cases, are often referred to legitimate pain management specialists for follow up care. Most pain management physicians are board certified anesthesiologists or have obtained specialized training in the numeous treatment options for dealing with chronic pain.
Unfortunately, the local news in the Tampa Bay area has been notable recently for police investigations and arrests involving numerous advertised “pain management clinics” which have been unmasked as little more than legalized drug trafficking operations dispensing powerful narcotic pain medications such as Oxycontin and Roxycodone to drug seeking patients for cash out of “store front” operations.
I applaud the efforts of law enforcement agencies in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties for shutting down such operations and bringing this issue to the attention of local and state lawmakers who are now taking the appropriate steps to regulate these clinics and insure that the medical treatment rendered by them is appropriate.
When faced with the decision to seek “pain management” treatment, some common sense rules apply. First and foremost, seek the opinion of the primary care physician as to a reputable pain management provider. Most area internists,chiropractors, neurologists and orthopedic specialists have developed relationships with numerous pain specialists throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Secondly, all reputable specialists will conduct a thorough review of the treatment rendered to date, including treatment notes, diagnostic tests and current pain medications. The specialist will also initially conduct a thorough physical examination and order additional testing if deemed necessary. These tests may include MRIs, CT scans and nerve conduction studies.
In addition, while narcotic pain medications may be prescribed, most reputable specialists will also explore alternative treatments to lessen chronic pain. The responsible pain management specialist will attempt to limit the dependency on oral pain medications rather than merely issue prescriptions on a monthly basis. These alternatives include physical therapy, steroid and trigger point injections, acupuncture and, if necessary, surgery.
In my practice, I have unfortunately seen client suffer the deleterious effects of the chronic abuse of pain medications caused in part by previous treatment at the “pill mills” which have now become newsworthy. I have seen clients turn to criminal behavior such as “doctor shopping” in order to obtain medication when their legitimate prescriptions are discontinued.
At the Heyman Law Firm, we are committed to providing our clients with highly competent legal representation and referring them to highly trained and ethical medical care providers. Should you or a loved one be faced with legal and/or medical decisions following an accident or injury, please do not hesitate to contact us at our offices for a no-cost consultation.