Dear Local Pain Clinic Known as “Tennessee Preferred Medical LLC,
This evening, when I arrived home after spending the day at my job, I found that my 8th grade son had already brought in the day’s mail, which included a flyer from our church regarding Easter Sunday services, a new children’s book for my preschooler from Dolly Parton’s wonderful Imagination Library program, and oh yes, this full color, two-sided, heavy card stock advertising mailer from YOU, Tennessee Preferred Medical, advertising your “Comprehensive Pain Management” services. Yes, your slick marketing mailer was delivered directly to the house where my husband Jon and I are raising our four surviving children, who range in age from one to 16 years old.
In case you aren’t sure which marketing material I’m talking about – I’m guessing it can get confusing when you send out so much – this is the advertisement you sent to my family today.
I mention my four surviving children because, well, you see, I would have five – two boys and three girls – except that my oldest boy, my teenage son Henry, became terribly addicted to prescription pain pills before he’d even reached his senior year of high school. God only knows what kind of adults would introduce a 16 year old boy to opiate-based prescription pain medication, knowing that he would likely become addicted, and it’s hard to imagine how a doctor could look himself in the mirror every morning if he had any clue that quite a few of the prescriptions he was writing for pain pills were actually being filled so that drug dealers right here in our hometown could then sell the pills to high school kids.
But anyway, back to my son, Henry. He suffered terribly from the things that being addicted to those pills did to his young body and mind, and I’m sure you know JUST what I’m talking about, since prescribing the exact same type of opiate pills is something you do at your clinics pretty regularly, making you bona fide pain pill experts in my book.
And then, two years ago next month, Henry died of a terrible brain injury caused by an overdose of those very same prescription painkillers. The two adults who were with him during the drug overdose (Maybe you’ve met them? They apparently had many, many painful conditions over the years that called for repeated visits to lots of local pain specialists like yourselves) decided not to call 911 for 17 hours, which as you would know – being experts and all – certainly didn’t help Henry’s chances for survival.
But Henry didn’t die right away. Even after all those hours without enough oxygen, my teenager managed to hang on for five long, horribly painful weeks in the hospital. Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to spell the details out for you of how hard those weeks before his death were for him, suffering as he did, because given your expertise in recognizing and treating just about any kind of pain a human being can suffer, I know you really get it.
Henry was only 18 years old when he died on May 31, 2010, and we all miss him an awful lot. As you can imagine, for my younger son (you know, the middle schooler who discovered your flyer in the mailbox on our front porch today?) losing his only brother, first to addiction to illegally prescribed and diverted prescription painkillers, and then to overdose from the same prescription pain pills has been especially hurtful. If any of you who own or work for Tennessee Preferred Medical are parents yourselves, I know you understand how hard it would be for a child to lose his only brother
And speaking of that, it appears that at least two of you folks running the show with Tennessee Preferred Medical are indeed parents yourselves. For example, David Hawk, a podiatrist who appears to be practicing….ummmm…podiatry, I guess, at “Tennessee Foot and Ankle Clinics,” located at 6221 Kingston Pike (the same address where your flyer says you diagnose and treat all kinds of serious pain conditions) shares in his personal bio posted on the TNFootandankle.com website that along with his wife, Tracy Hawk, he’s the proud parent of two children.
Here’s a helpful screenshot of David Hawk’s bio from the Tennessee Foot and Ankle Clinics website:
And Tracy Hawk, is listed as the Registered Agent for Tennessee Preferred Medical LLC, although the same records from Tennessee’s Secretary of State note that until some time in 2010 or 2011, David Hawk held that title.
But say there, Tennessee Preferred Medical, here’s what I don’t quite understand; the official address listed with the state for your “Comprehensive Pain Management” business (“Tennessee Preferred Medical LLC”) is the same 6221 Kingston Pike address in Knoxville where David Hawk practices podiatry at that Foot and Ankle Clinic. In fact, the podiatry practice’s website says that David Hawk actually owns the foot care practice, having purchased it in 2001.
But even though both health-related businesses that David Hawk owns – the podiatry practice and also Tennessee Preferred Medical’s “comprehensive pain management” practice for which I received that advertisement in the mail today – treat patients at the exact same address, Mr. Hawk apparently does not own the property itself. According to Knox County tax records, the property at 6221 Kingston Pike is owned by an entity identified as “Nu Life Clinics.”
I got a quick screenshot of that as well:
Do you guys have any idea who this “Nu Life Clinics” outfit is that owns the property on Kingston Pike where you’re managing all that chronic pain? All I could find out about them is that, according to Knox County tax records, they also own property at another location in the county where it sure looks to me like a chiropractor who ALSO specializes in getting rid of pain for patients has his office. That’s what it looks like to me anyway. If I’m right, what a coincidence THAT would be, huh?!
Clearly, a medical practice offering “comprehensive pain management” to treat the types of conditions you mention in that advertisement you sent to my house today – disorders like spinal pain, headaches, joint and nerve pain – would need to have an actual medical doctor and not just a podiatrist overseeing patient care. I mean, without an actual MD providing clinical oversight, dangerous narcotics could be prescribed in a potentially unsafe way, thus making their way out into the community at large, and I know that no one with Tennessee Preferred Medical would ever want to play any role in something like that happening.
How do I know that you are regularly prescribe narcotic pain pills out of your clinic locations, and aren’t focused on routinely recommending things like physical therapy, massage, TENS stimulation, surgery, or any non-pharma approaches to “pain management?”
Well, it says so right here on this screenshot I snapped of the front page of the Tennessee Preferred Medical website:
So given that you tell potential patients right up front that they can visit one of your clinics to “seek treatment through medication,” I’m sure you must have plenty of carefully trained Medical Doctors on staff – or at least a Medical Director with a medical license and DEA
Perhaps this fella serves in that role for you? Dr. Riley Senter? He must, because you could definitely get in some hot water if a podiatrist happened to be acting in any way like an M.D. in treating “comprehensive pain.”
What’s kind of odd, though, is that while I found Dr. Senter listed as having some kind of affiliation with Tennessee Preferred Medical by Googling “M.D” + that 6221 Kingston Pike address of yours, and while he’s listed with both Cigna and BCBS of TN as a Medical Doctor (provider) affiliated with Tennessee Preferred Medical, LLC, according to the state Medical Board’s records, Dr. Senter has no affiliation with you, does not practice medicine at any address affiliated with you that I can find, and has no hospital privileges in Knoxville, or in any of the other cities where that advertisement you sent me says your clinics are located.
Here’s a handy screenshot of Dr. Senter’s information from the state Medical Board so you can see what I mean:
Also, in my opinion – and you may feel otherwise – a doctor who has specialized in treating drug addiction, and treating addiction to opiates in particular seems an unusual choice to treat and diagnose patients at a clinic like yours that specializes in treating chronic pain. Do you see what I mean? Frankly, this could raise a few uncomfortable questions for you guys, if you get my drift.
Plus, according to the February 5, 2012 issue of the East Tennessee Business Journal, Dr. Senter just incorporated a new business for himself called “E. TN Med. Oversight, PC,” and it’s located out on Parkside Drive in far West Knoxville. Wow! That Dr. Senter is one busy guy!
And that brings me to my next point. If Dr. Senter is serving as your Kingston Pike Clinic’s staff M.D., you may want to double check that he’s really putting in the hours at the clinic that state law requires. See, new state regulations for pain clinics that went into effect on January 1, 2012 require an M.D. with certain credentials and well-defined, specialized prescribing training to serve as Medical Director at clinics like yours, and to be on site at least 33% of all operating hours. I only mention this so that in the wildly unlikely event that you don’t have a separate M.D. with all the required credentials on site 33% of the time at each one of the clinic locations listed on the flyer you sent to my house, I’d bust a move on that if I were you. You wouldn’t want to break the law or anything.
I mean, I know that podiatrists can legally prescribe narcotic pain meds like the kinds that killed my teenager, but from what I understand, podiatrists aren’t supposed to prescribe them for medical conditions that would clearly fall outside the scope of, y’know, podiatry. So problems like spinal pain or headaches probably wouldn’t be something for which a podiatrist could legally prescribe pain pills, or even treat.
But maybe, Tennessee Preferred Medical, just maybe you’re thinking that since you aren’t properly licensed as a pain clinic with the state – or at least you don’t appearto be listed among the properly licensed pain clinics in Tennessee – that you don’t need to worry about the whole M.D. issue so much. But given how the advertisement our family received from you today describes what it is you do, I don’t see much way around the fact that according to thelegal criteria defining “pain clinics” that went into effect in January, you do need to worry about that issue, and all the nitpicky state laws regarding how you can and cannot conduct business.
Plus, the rules from the state Board of Podiatry are pretty clear on the whole advertising thing, especially with regard to accidentally misleading anyone into thinking they will be treated by an actual M.D. rather than by a podiatrist, so you may want to keep an eye on that since I don’t see anything about podiatrists or podiatry on the marketing material you sent to my house.
But as I already said, I’m sure you’ve actually got doctors on site at all your different locations listed on the advertising mailer, so no worries, even though a quick Google search indicates that a podiatry practice also operates at the same address or in the same building complex at each of those other locations where your flyer says I can get my pain treated right away, by pain specialists.
Well Tennessee Preferred Medical, I guess I’ll wrap this up now. Basically, since you sent me something that I didn’t ask for, didn’t want to see, found very upsetting, and hope that others in our community don’t see, I figured I’d return the favor – mommyblogger style. I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed hearing from me just as much as I enjoyed hearing from you.
Katie Allison Granju
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