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Relief From Back Pain: A Promise Unfulfilled For Some


For those who suffer frequent back pain, it was a promise of relief.  Dallas-based North American Spine spent years building a business with a procedure called AccuraScope. Some swear by it. But others had disastrous results. Doug Swanson, an investigative reporter for the Dallas Morning News, spent months investigating North American Spine and talks about what he learned.

From Swanson’s interview about North American Spine…

AccuraScope procedure: “…they insert an endoscope, a catheter, at the very base of the spine…right near the tailbone. And the work the scope up the spine to the point where they want to inspect the damage and try to repair it.”

Who does the surgery: “North American Spine recruits their patients through web advertisements and seminars they do in hotels, and then they refer them to their partner physicians and those physicians, who are most often anesthesiologists or pain management specialists, do the procedure.  There are those, including North American Spine, who say for this kind of surgery you do not need a board certified surgeon…the pain management specialist can do it just fine.”

Did the founding partners of North American Spine know about Dr. Lawrence Rothstein’s drug charge and about his legal problems stemming from his use of AccuraScope in Ohio before he came to Texas?  “They knew it and said they checked him out …that he had gone through AA and was sober and clean. They believed most of those lawsuits against him had little or no merit, so they believed they checked him out completely. Now on down the line, he had a lot more lawsuits and he got into some more trouble, and the state of Ohio pulled his license last year.”

How Rothstein’s legal history made it past Texas regulators:  “Because he was never licensed in Texas. That was one of things people would come to North American Spine in Dallas thinking Lawrence Rothstein was going to do their surgery, and they were told ‘No, he’s not a licensed practitioner,’ someone else will have to do that.

For more information:

Doug Swanson’s Dallas Morning News article

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.