Guest post by Dr. G Leibowitz:
The practice of pain management has a long history and has evolved over the years from anesthesiolgists running back and forth from the OR to the pain clinic to dedicated, fellowship-trained interventional pain physicians. Then came the weekend course needle jockeys who desired to tap into the revenue that pain management provided. Hopefully this article will have them take pause and realize that a needle in the wrong place can indeed lead to disastrous consequences:
A surge in steroid injections to alleviate back and neck pain in the U.S. is bringing with it an increase in severe and unexpected complications, including paralysis and death. Reports of the side effects have prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the safety of steroid injections into the epidural space near the spinal cord, in consultation with an advisory group, the agency confirmed. Some 8.9 million Americans received the shots last year.
The article makes some eye-opening statements:
…pain, a market estimated to be as much as $300 billion a year. Epidurals are one of the interventional procedures — including implants of spinal cord stimulators and shots of pain killers — on which Americans spent $23 billion this year, 231 percent more than in 2002, according to Marketdata Enterprises
I’m aware of physicians of all specialties from Radiology to Family Medicine who have jumped on the bandwagon, took a weekend course and are now pain doctors. I guess their share of $300 billion was to hard to resist. Its quite sad really. My guess is that once the money dries up the herd will go elsewhere (botox maybe?) and the real pain physicians will be left cleaning up their mess.Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net