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 had been left scrambling for care, most of them low-income Californians lined by state and federal insurance coverage applications. Many have struggled for entry to their medical data and to search out medical doctors who would renew long-standing opioid prescriptions.

Within the months since, the state has declined to elaborate on the issues 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 beneath the possession of Dr. Francis P. Lagattuta. Interviews with former sufferers and workers, in addition to analyses of Medicare and Medi-Cal billing knowledge and different authorities paperwork, recommend the clinics operated based mostly on a markedly high-volume and unorthodox method to ache administration.

This consists of recurrently performing pores and skin biopsies that business specialists describe as out of the norm for ache specialists, in addition to notably excessive charges of nerve ablations and high-end urine exams that display for an in depth record of medication. Such procedures and associated pathology companies 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, based on interviews with former workers. Former sufferers reported feeling stress 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. Additionally they mentioned the impression of the chain’s abrupt closure on the Central Valley communities the place most of the clinics operated.

You’ll be able to take heed to their dialog here.

KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points. Along with Coverage Evaluation and Polling, KHN is without doubt one of the three main working applications at KFF (Kaiser Household Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit group offering data on well being points to the nation.

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