Saeva (saeva) wrote in bad_service,

Pain management doctor mismanages pain.

I recently had an appointment at a pain management clinic because my pain is heavily impacting my ability to function. Unfortunately, the doctor there was dismissive, barely did an exam, and cited my age as a reason to not treat my pain properly. I am young, but I also have a 23 (almost 24) year history of heart problems and an eight year history of pain. I've decided to write a letter to the clinical director about my experience while asking him/her to set up another diagnostic appointment for me with a different doctor. I could use some advice on it, since it's a bit long.

To the Clinical Director of the Pain Management Center in [city],

My name is [name]. I recently had an entry appointment with [doctor's name] at your [city] location to help with my head, neck, shoulder, upper back, and joint pain. I have an eight year history of pain, as well as a congenital heart condition, and had been referred to your clinic by a doctor who felt my pain was too extensive to be treated at my normal doctor's office.

I'd like to say that the staff there, especially Ashley in reception, were very nice, professional, and helpful. Going over my entry booklet was an easy process and the nurse made me feel very comfortable. Unfortunately, once [doctor] entered, the service I received became very negative.

In the course of a twenty minute "diagnostic" session:

- [doctor] did not introduce himself, meet my eyes, or do anything to make me feel comfortable.

- Interrupted me when I was answering his questions. (This included when he asked what my heart condition is and then only allowed me to explain two of the five aspects of my condition, aspects which have relevance to my pain levels.)

- Was immediately dismissive when I explained that I did not have any lower back pain. I have upper back pain but he said I had "no back pain" twice. When I pointed out I had upper back pain, through my shoulders and neck, he waved his hand dismissively and sighed.

- Did a less than three minute cursory examination of pain caused by touching my neck and around my spine. He did not allow me to explain I had pain in my joints as well.

- Thought the only thing he could do for me was medication. He did not suggest physical therapy or other treatments and when I tried to bring them up he interrupted me again.

- Despite saying he could only medicate me, he refused to do so appropriately and chose, instead, to keep me on the same treatment plan I have been on for the last two months. This plan under-treats my pain, a fact I wrote down in my booklet and told him numerous times in person.

- Decided that, even though he acknowledge it was undertreating me, he didn't think someone who was "only 23" should be on more narcotics than my current amount.

- Was not willing to increase my dosage even when I tried to explain, for the third time, that my current treatment has not been effective. Instead he repeated that I was "only 23 years old," as if that had any relevance to my pain.

It says on your website, and in the brochure you sent me, that the Pain Management Center is dedicated to appropriately and wholly treating pain. It says that this means not undertreating pain, as that may only aggravate the condition, cause more pain, and make it more difficult to treat in the future. I am, quite honestly, at my wit's end and am barely functional with pain treatment. Your Pain Management Center was my best hope for being properly treated, yet the doctor I saw was dismissive, ignored my physical and mental suffering, consciously undertreated my pain despite my protests, and cited my age as the sole reason for doing so. I do not feel comfortable being treated by a doctor who would rather treat me as a demographic than as an individual patient with an extensive list of medical problems.

As a result I would ask two things from you:

I would like another diagnostic appointment, with a doctor who is more realistic about my pain and who will not take my age as the major factor in treating me. I am willing to pay for this, out of pocket, though it would be helpful if I could pay only the follow-up appointment price as I am a graduate student and have very limited funds.

I would like you to reprimand [doctor] about his discriminatory practices based on age, as well as his complete lack of bedside manner.

Given the Pain Management Center's committment to helping people function through their pain I have hope that you will take this complaint very seriously. I have considered sending a complaint against [doctor] to the State Medical Board but I hope that it will not come to that. I want to believe that [doctor] was having a bad day and is not usually so unprofessional and dismissive of his patients.

Again, the rest of your staff was very helpful, punctual, and made the Center a place I could feel comfortable in. I would be happy to return there to see a different doctor, one who takes me seriously and does not discriminate.


The whole experience was pretty awful. I don't expect handholding, I've been to too many doctors to even want that, but I did expect professional, non-discriminatory services. Being young doesn't mean I have no pain, especially when I have two direct relatives -- my dad and my grandmother -- who developed arthiritis in their late 20s/early 30s, as well as nerve pain (same grandmother), migraines (paternal grandfather), and non-congenital heart issues (grandfather and father) that lead to chest angina (painful). The doctor completely ignored MY history, my FAMILY's history, and the words coming out of my mouth to made a snap decision based on the fact he didn't feel adequate narcotics to handle the pain were appropriate to give to a 23 year old. GRR.
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