I am a chronic pain patient with a severe disorder of the spine. I would compare my pain to that of a very bad toothache that runs all the way down my spine and into my arms and legs. I have been undergoing treatment for this for over a decade. I have been prescribed a combination of physical therapy, surgeries and pain medications.
It is very hard to find good pain management doctors; especially in Florida where there are a lot of "pill mills" that are more concerned with making money than treating your medical condition. A lot of legitimate doctors will underprescribe medication or refuse to prescribe pain medication for fear of legal prosecution.
This report is for legitimate chronic pain patients who are seeking competent, legal care. Seeing this doctor may put your health in jeapordy and the clinic's actions may eventually get them shut down leaving you suddenly without the medication you need.
When I first started seeing Dr. David Vandercar at the Tampa Pain Clinic, I was very happy with the quality of care I received. They seemed to be compassionate and competent. The clinic appeared to be legitimate. They had very strict rules for patient conduct and required extensive proof of your condition. The doctor spent a good amount of time with me at each visit and seemed to want to help me not just deal with my pain, but find more permanent solutions to treat my condition so that I could eventually stop taking the medications. This made me feel like I was in good hands.
After about a year and a half of seeing the doctor, I noticed the practice start to change. They became very busy and the doctor spent very little time with me during visits. His nurse seemed to run the operation and I often felt like important information I was sharing with her was being over looked and wasn't being shared with the doctor. I later learned that they put my health in jeapordy by ignoring information I shared with her. Luckily, their oversight was caught by one of my other doctors before any permanent damage occured.
Several situations occurred that made me very uncomfortable with this doctor and prompted me to find a new doctor:
- The doctor stopped seeing me every month. I was told to come in one month and the following two months my prescriptions would be mailed to me. They didn't even speak to me on the phone. My credit card was charged and my medications were sent via FedEx. I later learned that this is illegal.
- The doctor would go on long vacations with little warning. If you couldn't make it in to see him before his vacation, you were cut off of your medications until he came back. This can be deadly if you are on a high enough dosage of certain medications. In any case, this is unprofessional and unethical and leaves the patient in a terrible physical condition. The doctor did not have a back up physician to handle his patient load while he was away.
- I was on very high doeses of powerful narcotics for a long time and they never drew blood to test my liver and kidney function; nor did they require I get these tests on a regular basis for my safety. I had to request these tests on my own from my general practitioner. They also never required or requested an updated MRI or other studies. I later learned that Florida law requries updated images every couple of years in order for a doctor to continue to prescribe these particular medications.
- I requested a copy of my medical records and they refused to give them directly to me. This is illegal. They said they only send them directly to other physicians. I had other physicians request them and they were never sent. In all, my records were requested at least 6 times.
I befriended a couple of other patients from the clinic who have shared horror stories with me & I am hearing that more and more patients are leaving the practice. I hope anyone out there that has had bad experiences with this doctor will report them. Chronic pain patients need to work together to get the bad doctors shut down so we can get the quality care we deserve.