Listen: An Unsettling Investigation Into the Closure of a Chain of Pain Clinics

Final spring, Lags Medical Facilities, a sprawling chain of ache clinics serving greater than 20,000 sufferers in California, abruptly shuttered amid a cloaked state investigation into “credible allegations of fraud.” Tens of 1000’s of sufferers have been left scrambling for care, most of them low-income Californians coated by state and federal insurance coverage packages. Many have struggled for entry to their medical information and to seek out medical doctors who would renew long-standing opioid prescriptions.

Within the months since, the state has declined to elaborate on the considerations that prompted its investigation, which is ongoing.

KHN senior correspondents Jenny Gold and Anna Maria Barry-Jester got down to unravel what occurred inside Lags Medical, an affiliated community of clinics below the possession of Dr. Francis P. Lagattuta. Interviews with former sufferers and workers, in addition to analyses of Medicare and Medi-Cal billing information and different authorities paperwork, counsel the clinics operated based mostly on a markedly high-volume and unorthodox strategy to ache administration.

This contains usually performing pores and skin biopsies that trade consultants describe as out of the norm for ache specialists, in addition to notably excessive charges of nerve ablations and high-end urine checks that display screen for an in depth record of medication. Such procedures and associated pathology providers at an in-house lab generated tens of millions of {dollars} in insurer funds in recent times for Lags Medical.

A lot of the work at Lags Medical was carried out by a comparatively small variety of nurse practitioners and doctor assistants, every juggling dozens of sufferers a day, in response to interviews with former workers. Former sufferers reported feeling strain to consent to injections and different generally painful procedures or threat having their opioid provides minimize off.

On Feb. 25, Gold and Barry-Jester joined Valley Public Radio’s Kathleen Schock on “Valley Version” to debate their findings. In a wide-ranging interview, they described the clinic’s quantity of punch biopsies and different uncommon medical practices. In addition they mentioned the impression of the chain’s abrupt closure on the Central Valley communities the place most of the clinics operated.

You possibly can take heed to their dialog here.

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially unbiased service of the California Health Care Foundation.

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