No conflict on pain panel, doctor says
By Carol Gentry
6/3/2010 © Health News Florida
Joel Rose, the physician who appointed himself to a state rule-setting panel on pain treatment, says he has no conflict of interest because the clinics he works in aren't really pain clinics. They're for victims of auto accidents.
In December, he signed up as the "designated physician" for three facilities on the state's new pain-clinic registry, created as part of a 2009 law to get a handle on the burgeoning industry.
But the firm that owns those clinics, Physicians Group LLC of Sarasota, notified the state last month that it had decided its facilities are exempt from the law, Rose said, and gave up the 40 licenses it had paid for.
The letter from the attorney for Physicians Group was not immediately available, but the state Department of Health released its response, verifying that the company was relinquishing its pain-clinic licenses. DOH said it could not offer legal advice on whether Physicians Group qualifies for exemption.
Since the facilities Rose works in are no longer classified as pain clinics, the Tampa physician said, "therefore there is no conflict of interest."
Rose, who became chairman of the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine in a close vote in April, appointed himself to the Joint Committee on Pain Management, ousting the committee's vice-chairman. The move surprised the committee's chair, Fred Bearison of the Board of Medicine, and several former chairs of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. A Health News Florida article on Wednesday quoted their concerns that it would be a conflict of interest.
The joint committee, set up by the 2009 Legislature to write rules for the out-of-control pain-pill industry, has two slots for members of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine and five slots for members of the Board of Medicine. Rules written by the committee go to the boards for a vote.
In board discussions of the proposed new pain rules in February and April, minutes show, Rose voiced opposition to some high-bar requirements, such as requiring pain-clinic doctors to pass a test every two years at license renewal. He led an effort to extend that to six years, but the Board of Medicine refused to go along.
(Update Friday: The Attorney General's office verified late Thursday that Rose checked with the board's legal counsel before participating in those discussions and was given the green light.)
Rose told Health News Florida that he works in five clinics owned by Physicians Group LLC, rotating through each one day a week, in addition to keeping late-afternoon and evening hours at his private practice in family medicine.
The company's Web site shows that the clinics specialize in treating auto-accident injuries, offering everything from MRI scans to chiropractic manipulation. The site says they provide consultation with neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists.
Indeed, the site says the clinics don't accept health insurance, only auto insurance.
State records show the company is controlled by Gary Kompothecras, a chiropractor who became well-known through TV commercials advertising his legal and medical referral service "1-800-Ask-Gary.”
--Carol Gentry, Editor, can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.