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Pain patients defend Dr. Anna Lee
Despite the successful treatment of 1,400 chronic pain patients with an innovative, non-drug method, Anna Lee, M.D., may lose her New Jersey medical license. Having already spent $200,000 in legal fees, Dr. Lee faces a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in June. Her Cherry Hill Pain and Rehab Institute has been closed for more than a year.
Dr. Lee uses intramuscular nerve stimulation, a variant of a technique that was developed at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The New Jersey State Medical Board has accused her of malpractice, negligence, fraud, experimenting on her patients with a potentially dangerous device, and other wrongdoing. A case alleging the same issues, brought by Allstate and several other insurance companies, was dismissed last month by the State Superior Court in Burlington County. Allstate had reported her to the New Jersey Office of Insurance Fraud in 2003.
Dr. Lee’s patients are outraged. They say they endured years of pain and disability before finding her treatment, the only one, they say, that enabled them to throw away their painkillers and lead a halfway normal life.
If Dr. Lee’s license is revoked, Allstate and other insurers, who have lost to her in arbitration actions, will not have to pay for her treatments.
“The insurance companies look at their books each quarter and say, ‘How can we save dollars here?’ Then they knock down things that are innovative,” said Andrew Schlafly, General Counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). He said that the insurance companies are “trying to get the medical board to do their dirty work and get rid of the doctor.”
Dr. Lee has vowed to fight the charges to her last penny. “It’s almost a curse that I know this treatment,” she told reporter Virginia A. Smith (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb 23, 2005 (www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/10966179.htm?1c).