Monday, August 30, 2010

Questionable medical practice in rural Ky. advertises regionally, gets business from afar

UPDATE, Sept. 9: MCL reports that the clinic has closed.

The Marion County Line, a blog based in Lebanon, Ky., population 6,300, reports on a medical clinic that opened recently in town. "The Lebanon Trade Center is like any other shopping center in Kentucky -- there's a cigarette outlet, a chiropractor, a Subway shop, a hair salon, and a cash-only pain clinic, where anybody with $200 can get a prescription for Oxycontin," writes Jim Higdon, Lebanon resident and graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism.

When Wanda Abell Meade read an advertisement for the clinic, in her local newspaper in Grayson, Ky., 162 miles east of her hometown of Lebanon, she became concerned. The ad said, "Specializing in complete pain management ... Walk-ins welcome. Now accepting new patients." Meade, who manages nursing homes, asked a nurse on her staff to make an inquiry and was told by the clinic to bring in an MRI less than two years old, $200 in cash, and a fax number for your pharmacist. No ads have appeared in The Lebanon Enterprise.

UPDATE, Sept. 8: Stephen Lega of the Enterprise reports that the clinc has also advertised in The Morehead News, also in northeastern Kentucky, "No one involved seems to want to talk about it," Lega writes of the clinic. "Official documents filed on behalf of the business also appear to contain inaccurate information." Lega's well-reported story is here.
The medical office is open sporadically, but when it is open, cars arrive from as far away as Leitchfield (81 miles west), Wolfe County (129 miles east), and Paducah (222 miles west), a Lebanon Trade Center businessperson told Higdon. The cars generally carry four or five people per vehicle -- all seeking prescriptions from Lebanon Medical Solutions, according to a local pharmacist, who will no longer fill prescriptions written there. The clinic is owned by two doctors; one has had a series of competency issues throughout his career and the other has practiced in several locations, Higdon reports.

Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, said "Grayson and Morehead are near one end of the so-called pill pipeline from Florida, which may be tightening because of new laws and enforcement in that state." The Rural Blog has reported on the topic; here is a recent item.


Art said...

I've respected your blog for its objectivity in posting summaries and links to articles of possible interest. That objectivity is jeopardized, however, when the Rural Institute director comments on a story.

Al Cross said...

I respectfully disagree. My comment was meant to add context and subtly solicit reports of other far-flung advertising by the clinic. I am the publisher of this blog. I could have simply added my comments without quotation or citation, but that would have been putting words in the writer's mouth. This was a more honest and transparent way to do it.