Current Issue - January/February 2020 - Vol 23 Issue 1


  1. 2020;23;E7-E18Pain Medicine Board Certification Status Among Physicians Performing Interventional Pain Procedures in the State of Florida Between 2010 and 2016
    Comparison Study
    Richard H. Epstein, MD, Franklin Dexter, MD, PhD, and Amy C.S. Pearson, MD.

BACKGROUND: The US Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that physicians performing interventional pain procedures be credentialed based on criteria based guidelines and minimum training requirements.

OBJECTIVES: To quantitatively assess gaps in certification related to pain medicine fellowship requirements, we studied the distribution of such procedures in Florida between 2010 and 2016.

STUDY DESIGN: This research involved a retrospective analysis with a sample size of n = 1,885,442 interventional pain procedures.

SETTING: Data describing interventional pain procedures performed in Florida between January 2010 and December 2016 were obtained from the Florida Department of Health. The National Provider Identifier file and board certification lists from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM), and the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) corresponding to this time frame were also obtained.

METHODS: The datasets were linked to determine the specialty of physicians performing interventional pain procedures, and whether or not they were pain medicine diplomates of the ABMS, the ABPM, or the ABIPP. The similarity index theta was calculated for the distribution of interventional pain procedure codes among medical specialty groups, and with respect to the practitioners’ pain medicine board certification status.

RESULTS: Of the interventional pain procedures, anesthesiologists performed 63.5%, physiatrists 19.1%, neurologists or psychiatrists 5.2%, and other practitioners 12.3%. Among procedures performed by anesthesiologists, physiatrists, and psychiatrists or neurologists, 66.2%, 50.3%, and 50.4% were by ABMS pain board-certified practitioners, respectively. Practitioners without ABMS pain medicine boards performed 45.8% of interventional pain procedures. Practitioners without such boards from either the ABMS, ABPM, or ABIPP performed 37.7%. There was very large similarity (theta > 0.9) in the distribution of procedures comparing ABMS pain medicine board-certified practitioners to non-ABMS pain medicine board-certified anesthesiologists, physiatrists, or all other specialties.

LIMITATIONS: In countries other than the United States, where pain medicine board certification is relatively recent, there may be a higher percentage of interventional pain procedures performed by individuals without certification than we report. In “opt-out” states, where nurse anesthetists can independently perform interventional pain procedures, the percentage of interventional pain procedures performed by individuals without physician pain medicine board certification may also be higher. The datasets we used do not contain information to allow assessment of outcomes or effectiveness resulting from pain medicine board certification.

CONCLUSIONS: Approximately one-third of interventional pain procedures were performed by physicians without at least 1 of the 3 pain medicine board certifications. In addition, the practitioners performed very similar distributions of procedures (i.e., those without pain medicine board certification, overall, have not restricted their practice). These results suggest the need for additional accredited pain medicine fellowship training positions for newly graduated residents. The results also show that, for the recommendations of the Department of Health and Human Services to be satisfied, physicians without board certification performing intervention procedures would need to obtain ABPM or ABIPP certification, or ABMS certification after completion of a full-time Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education pain medicine fellowship.

KEY WORDS: Chronic pain, education, medical, graduate, specialty boards