Snake Oil and Red Flags:  How to know a Biologic Clinic is not legit.?

Clinics are popping up everywhere promising you the moon and taking your retirement funds.  As a Harvard-trained MD committed to helping people, I hate seeing people taken advantage of.  So here are some things to look for in a clinic and steer clear if you see this.

            -A clinic where you see the MD/DO once and then all your injections will be by a PA/NP.  This tells you they are all about the money.  They use the MD/DO to give the place “legality” and “legitimacy” but the reality is it is preying on people and using the PA/NP to make money faster while the MD is off running another business or semi-retired and enjoying the extra wealth.

            -A “stem cell” clinic run by a MD/DO who is not trained in Sports Medicine, Orthopedics, Pain Medicine or a similar field that actually is consistent with what they are doing.  I have seen clinics run by OBGYNs, Psychiatrists, Internal Medicine doctors and more.  These may be great doctors in their specific field, but they really should not be evaluating people and then injecting them for musculoskeletal issues.  They don’t have the training and usually lack the experience to make sound decisions and guide treatment appropriately.  All too often they are doing it because they thought it would be a great way to make more money.

-A “Stem Cell” clinic run by a Chiropractor.  Hey, I have great friends and colleagues who are chiropractors.  However, if a Chiro is running a stem cell clinic, you know it is bogus.  Why?  Well in Florida Chiropractors cannot legally inject you with anything.  So right away you know they are just the front man/woman for the place and they have minimal hands-on experience with biologics.  Why?  Because they can’t even inject you, thus they are dependent on some other person legally to do the injection.  Usually this is some midlevel provider (PA, NP) who has only 3 years training in medicine and no legitimate training in biologics.  Then this midlevel is “supervised” by a “medical director” who is a MD or DO.  So right away you know this place is all about money.  Your injection has to be overpriced to pay the Chiropractor, the PA and the MD supervisor (who you almost never meet).  So, if you see this layout… run away.  This is not the right place for you.

-A Clinic that makes you promises you will be pain free when they haven’t even examined you.  If they are promising their treatments will make you better and you have not even been examined by the provider or you lack definite imaging like X-Ray, MRI or CT combined with a detailed history and exam then that is a red flag.  They are selling you snake oil.  Run away.    

-A clinic that does not use “imaging” to guide injections.  Patients frequently tell me about clinics where they are injected blindly without ultrasound or X-Ray guidance.  This is preposterous.  It is no longer 1850.  We have technology to guide injections which should be used.  Patients are told “the cells will know where to go.”  This is nonsense.  If the cells knew where to go then why didn’t they go there to begin with.  It is crucial that your PRP, mesenchymal cells, etc. are placed carefully and precisely to the targeted area.  This improves likelihood of success and reduces risk of the procedure.  Other clinics often do not use imaging guidance because they don’t want to invest in expensive devices and in addition their team is not trained in how to actually inject people with precision. 

So here is your check list to walk away if the place is:

-Run by a Chiro.

-Injections done only by a PA/NP.

-Injections done without guidance.

-Promises are made without accurate diagnosis.

-The place is run by someone who is not trained to do the procedures.

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