Medicine in Florida is Getting to Be a Real Pain, in More Ways than One

More than 1,000 pain clinics have opened in Florida in the last few years, leading to a thriving trade in illegal pill distribution.

I took another short vacation this past weekend. The lovely Elke accompanied me down to South Florida for my 45th high school reunion. We had a great time, partying with about 40 classmates (I graduated in a class of over 800). We all shared stories, old pictures, and videos on PowerPoint and danced late into Saturday night. It was fun getting reacquainted with old friends, but there were some people I didn’t know… now, or then.

Sunday morning we had breakfast and then were going to make a pit stop to visit someone we know who is convalescing in a South Florida hospital after experiencing some minor complications from surgery. After a brief hello, we had to leave so the doctor could see the patient. After that the story gets… interesting. I’m not at liberty to tell the whole story at this point, but keep checking this blog for details. Suffice it to say that the doctor’s behavior was a bit unexpected, especially toward the family and me.

Speaking of medicine and Florida, a major problem here in Florida is the burgeoning number of pain clinics popping up all over the state, especially in South Florida. “Patients” are flocking in from out of state, paying cash, and leaving with bagfuls of narcotics to peddle back in their home states. The Florida Legislature passed a law restricting pain clinics and making it harder for them to operate in the state. The latest stats indicate that nine people a day die in Florida from prescription drug overdoses, more than from illegal drugs. That’s a scary thought.

It’s gotten so bad that there are billboards all along I-4 and the Florida Turnpike advertising 800 numbers for clinics in South Florida, as well as billboards for attorneys trying to attract those injured in accidents and needing legal services, as well as medical services. To cite just one example of how pervasive this has become, in Tampa there’s an amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds that is a frequent venue for rock concerts. It’s been known as the Ford Amphitheatre since it opened, but with the problems in the auto industry, Ford has dropped sponsorship. Enter a Sarasota-based medical and legal referral service “known for its near-unavoidable ads, which urge ‘scared and confused’ accident victims to call for medical and legal referrals." The venue is now called the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre.

PS -- Thought I'd post a photo from lunch today:

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