Pain clinics forced unnecessary injections on patients

Feds: Pain clinics forced unnecessary injections on patients to make millions – by Brett Kelman, Nashville Tennessean – Nov 2018

This is the nightmare scenario that was mentioned in my previous post: Epidural Steroid Injections: Danger Worth the Benefits?

Federal prosecutors have accused a chain of pain clinics spread through Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia of duping the government and the military out of millions of dollars by forcing patients to receive unnecessary injections into their back, then intentionally mislabeling the injections during billing.

The allegations are spelled out in a lawsuit filed Friday against Pain MD clinics and parent company MedManagement, or MMi, both of which are headquartered in Franklin, Tenn.  

In the suit, prosecutors allege that the MMi company culture pressured medical staff to inject patients as often in as possible in an effort to inflate profits.

If patients wanted treatment, clinics required them to agree to six to 12 injections per visit, regardless of need, according to the lawsuit.

“A day without sticking people is like a day without sunshine,” one company official wrote in an internal email, according to the lawsuit.

The crux of the alleged scheme revolves around a pain-relieving medical procedure called “tendon origin injections,” or TOIs, which inject medication directly into the tendon to treat conditions like tendonitis. Medicaid and Tricare, which are federal health insurance programs, will cover an unlimited number of these injections for patients.

However, the new lawsuit accuses MedManagement of performing a more general procedure – a “trigger point injection,” or TPI – which injects medicine into a back muscle instead of a tendon, then intentionally mis-labeling the procedure as tendon injections in billing records.

Medicaid and Tricare limit TPI coverage to only four per year, so the company was able to greatly inflate its profits by pretending it was injecting into tendons, the lawsuit states.

Overall, the company duped Medicare out of approximately $3 million between 2010 and 2015, the lawsuit alleges. It also duped Tricare, which covers military personnel, out of another $288,000.

If the allegations sound familiar, they should.

Last year, state officials accused MedManagement of the same scheme in a lawsuit of their own, saying the company submitted about $7 million in fraudulent claims to TennCare over an 11-year span.

So, they are “repeat offenders” who were allowed to continue operations after the first crime and then proceeded to operate a new crime scheme. It looks like they are entirely “typical criminals” with a high rate of recidivism.

“These clinics put profit over patients,” said Attorney General Herbert Slatery last year.

This should not surprise anyone when our whole healthcare system is run by private companies that believe it’s “moral requirement” to seek the highest possible profit.

“Even more disturbing than the millions of dollars in fraudulent claims to the state is their lack of compassion for those coming to them for treatment.”

Now, this is a ridiculous statement. When our corporate culture has, by design, no goal or obligation except profit, “compassion” is a meaningless concept.

We are not paying for “care and compassion” when we are treated by a corporate medical practice. We are only contracting for whatever the corporation considers a “standard service”, nothing more.

9 thoughts on “Pain clinics forced unnecessary injections on patients

  1. K Cooper

    The so called Opiate Epidemic has been really profitable for these criminals. It shows why the media has been distorting the facts, and why the FDA is still blaming pain patients, it is profitable. The device industry hid the deaths and adverse events too, as pain patients died. They sold these devices to desperate people with pain, after they took away their medications. Pharma presented alternatives too, dangerous psych meds that they claimed were effective, with no evidence. They cashed in on the addicted too, jacking up the price of drugs developed decades ago.
    They are still perpetuating fear and stigma, because it sells. Nalaxone was approved in 1971, and the price is still prohibitive. The entire response is like a criminal conspiracy, this was identified almost 2 decades ago. They failed to respond, instead they cashed in on reality shows, to promote expensive treatment centers. They argued over abstinence, for a price any nimwit will go on TV, and peddle misinformation. The latest American death rates show a serious problem, yet they remain in denial.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I noticed that most PROP members are “interventional” pain specialists that earn their money from treatments that involve invasive surgeries, most of which have been shown to have little benefit and often do more harm.

      Or, that pain could be managed with an ongoing prescription for effective generic opioids, a treatment that’s affordable even without insurance.

      The opioid restrictions remove the easy cheap option and force all pain patients into much more expensive treatments (even with insurance) that generate nice fat profits for doctors willing to take advantage of patients’ desperation.

      This issue exposes the danger of a healthcare system driven purely by profit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GZB

    I have a procedure scheduled in the next couple of weeks. It was not presented as an option,it was more of an ultimatum. If these injections were effective I would be the first in line! It’s hard not to be skeptical when you’ve had dozens of the same in the past 30 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      So, why are you being coerced unto getting more of a treatment that doesn’t help your pain, but has a significantly risk associated with it?

      This seems a clear case of medical mistreatment by pushing you into a procedure with some risk and no benefit. You have a right to ask about the official medical reason for this (should be documented in your health record).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. GZB

        Oh my, I need to pay more attention to emails. It wa presented as an ultimatum, not an option. I hate, HATE, sounding so weak! I questioned my provider and I was met with hostility. It’s scary, I’ve been dropped before. I was told that if I refused their “procedures “ I would not receive pain meds. The injection I had was to an area that I chose. It had never been imaged or diagnosed. No, it’s not right.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Zyp Czyk Post author

          Well, at least you know it’s not personal, it’s just some doctors profiteering from the desperate situation we’re in. When our back’s against the wall, we just have to be practical and weigh our options. It’s nothing less than blackmail, yet somehow it’s legal.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. QueenP

    I was forced from my pain management Dr. 2 take the injections or I won’t get my meds, that I needed so bad, for other conditions. Even thou I complained like hell about how those injections was making me feel, he ignored me & said mean & ugly things 2 me. Now I have a disease that I can’t get rid of, I am always sick, I feel like I am a victim behind all of this. He should be sent 2 jail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      This kind of coercion cannot be considered proper medical practice – you could complain to your state medical board. Of course, if you still need meds from this doc, there’s not much you can do. How frustrating!



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