Palm Beach Post Writer Responds to Pain Clinic Lobby Criticism

Last week, we told you about the Florida Society of Pain Management Providers, the largest pain-clinic-supported lobbying organization in the state, harshly criticizing the Palm Beach Post over the paper's coverage of pain clinic legislation. Paul Sloan, president of the Pain Society, called Post writer Michael LaForgia's work "simply reprehensible."

In the comments field of that original post, Mr. Sloan weighed in again (eight times, actually), clarifying his group's complaints further. Eventually we heard from LaForgia as well, who wrote in to clarify a bit himself.

First, LaForgia's note, in which he explains that he has never interviewed or consulted Sloan for this or any other story. Then, one of Sloan's comments on the original post, in which, among other things, he explains how he counts pain clinics.

From LaForgia:

"We should get a few things straight when it comes to Paul Sloan's complaints about my story," he wrote. "The numbers I used were generated by a computer analysis of pain clinic registration records, which you can get from the health department's website. Here's the link.

"Using a spreadsheet created on Jan. 5, one of our computer-assisted reporting specialists cleaned the data with Google Refine and then sorted it in Excel. The results we got were the numbers printed in my story.

"Mr. Sloan, whom I never have interviewed or consulted for any story, sent me an unsolicited e-mail on Jan. 12. In it, he had pasted what he said was his e-mail to the state Board of Medicine. Mr. Sloan opened his message to me with this note:

'Below is my e-mail sent today to Board of Medicine (Exec Director) regarding a data error that makes a significant change in outcome.
'The revocations are based on not meeting pain clinic ownership requirements as of the new statute effective date (10/01/10).
'I just received an e-mail confirmation from BOM that I was indeed correct in my research.

'Out of the 936 pain clinics the DOH/BOM has begun the process to revoke 213 + licenses. 

'Big Difference!'

"I noted the difference between Mr. Sloan's pain clinic count and mine, but we used the numbers from our own analysis for obvious reasons.

"Numbers aside, the point of the story wasn't that standards for pain clinics don't exist. It was that tough new rules, and the creation of tools for fighting crooked operators, are being held up for a variety of reasons. This is something Mr. Sloan doesn't dispute."

Michael LaForgia

From Sloan:

"All pain clinic statistics were sourced directly from the Florida Department of Health on January 18th; the Department updates pain clinic registrations daily and are 100% accurate. Because you cannot understand the database does not mean the numbers are not factual and the "fluid" excuse is just an excuse for not making the effort to verify. The simple fact is that pain clinics registrations are not increasing.

"It was the Director of the FL Governors Office on Drug Control who made the statement on the source of pain meds not us and it was based on a Federal DOH report.

"Non Medical use is defined as those who use the medication but were not prescribed the medication. It is a standard term in the medical field.

"Clinics not owned by physicians must be licensed by Florida AHCA which requires that all owners, physicians and staff go through FBI and FDLE criminal background checks and felons are not barred. It is Physician owned clinics that have no such restrictions. Check your facts.

"Lastly we believe that Medication Diversion is the most significant problem and have supported the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) which has sat useless for two years as it was left unfunded by the legislators. We have even publicly advocated that the state charge clinic an annual fee to fund the system.

"You may not like the truth (facts) but neither did Mr. Laforgia and in his case that is not acceptable.

"Maybe you should give him another award for knowingly and blatantly avoiding the truth.

"And for the commenter let it be know that I have been the only one in the State of Florida that attended every Board of Medicine pain clinic workshop and PDMP workshop and have submitted over 500 pages of clinic rules submissions; furthermore the clinics that I own have turned more patients over to law enforcement for prosecution then any other Clinic and DR in the state. We don't discharge We Prosecute!"

Paul Sloan

For the rest of Sloan's comments, you can view the comments field on the original post here.

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