After 24 years, we are closing the Pain Management Center that I opened in 1995 with Dr. Ken Thomas. Times have changed and treating pain is much more difficult. In 1995 pain was “the fifth vital sign” and physicians paid attention to your pain and assisted you to decrease your pain and maintain your ability to function as a person. Now physicians are told to ignore your pain and not to prescribe any medication.
We approached pain with a multi-modality approach.
Our goals were to identify the cause of your pain and repair that if possible. We utilized physical therapy, massage, alternative therapies, herbal supplements, antidepressants and opiate pain medication. Now, because 9% of the population has an addiction problem, it is much more difficult for patients in pain to get their medication and treatments. Government regulators are telling the pharmacies that their license is on the line and that they need to dispense less opiate pain medication. Your pharmacists then fear for their careers and make the patient feel like an addict, and they set up limits and tell you that you need to take less medication. They want you to take medications designed to treat opiate addiction and not chronic pain. Then the insurance companies set up roadblocks called Prior Authorizations (PAs). The Pharmacist says, “Your doctor just needs to call the insurance company,” as if it is that easy. I or my office staff then call the insurance company and then they want a special form filled out so that a person with only a high school education can then “decide” if you really need your medication that your physician has already prescribed! Now every patient needs this PA tripling the workload for my office. When we prescribe pain medications we do it in a highly regulated and controlled manner to prevent the 9% of the population that abuses medications from getting medications.
The 9% of addicted patients have ruined it for the patients that really need Pain Management and medication. After 24 years we are closing the Pain Management Center and I will be doing Anesthesiology for the surgeries at Mark Twain Medical Center. There are other Pain Management Centers that patients can go in the area.
It was a pleasure to help the patients of Calaveras County who have chronic pain and I wish them well in the future.