Choosing a Pain Physician
At MSP, we want to help all pain patients in need if possible. Though we feel we have distinguished ourselves, we’d like to help you make an informed decision about the care you choose to receive. Identifying and locating caring, competent, and comprehensive Pain Physicians is possible... especially at MSP! So here are some things to look for:
Fellowship Training - All subspecialists in Pain Medicine must have additional fellowship training after their residency. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is responsible for the accreditation of the majority of these fellowships. This guarantees that a certain experience and competency level has been meet under a set of stringent guidelines. Also, there are recognized non-accredited programs that have comparable training.
Board Certification – Physicians that have been both board certified in their primary specialty (usually Anesthesiology or Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) AND have completed an ACGME accredited fellowship program are eligible to become board certified in Pain Medicine through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Also the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM) offers recognized subspeciaty certification.
Standard of Care Practices - This refers to the degree of attentiveness, caution and prudence that a reasonable physician in the field would exercise in similar situations. This is often established by common clinical practice of similar professionals in their community as determined by improved safety or clinical outcomes. For example, use of fluoroscopy (radiographic imaging) during all spinal procedures; and also random urine drug screening for chronic opioid management are standards that should be expected of all practicing pain physicians.
"The Intangibles" - Other things to consider include clinical experience, complexity of patients treated, reputation amongst patients and colleagues in the community. Organizational or research involvement, presentations or lectures given, articles or chapters authored all demonstrate dedication to the field as well. Lastly, clinical judgement and bedside manner may be the most important in terms of establishing a long-term meaningful doctor-patient relationship, one that is centered around communication and trust.
Jimmy M Henry MD