After CRPS Diagnosis, What Happens Next?
A CRPS diagnosis can be a relief to many people. How? The answer is simple. Knowing that the pain is real, valid, and lending a name to the pain is a relief. Despite the relief a CRPS diagnosis may bring to a patient’s mental state temporarily, the toll chronic pain takes on the psyche of a patient is immeasurable. Living with CRPS, a disease dubbed “the suicide disease” due to its lack of proven symptom relief, is an endless nightmare of doctors and treatments that lead down the same road. That road is endless pain and suffering both physically and mentally for which there may never be a standard cure.
CRPS diagnosis causes mental anguish
For patients, it’s often the emotional and mental anguish caused by the intractable pain that they cannot deal with. This is leading to high rates of suicide in the United States and Canada. The knowledge that a patient is going to be in pain–possibly forever–is as debilitating as the physical pain itself. Whether a CRPS diagnosis is due to medical malpractice or an accident (these are what’s known as causalgia), retaining legal counsel to obtain compensation can ease the financial burden those afflicted with “the suicide disease” face; sometimes for the rest of their lives when left nearly bed bound and unable to support their family the way they once were.
This writeup is meant to help patients suffering a CRPS diagnosis learn what they need to know when it comes to moving forward on the legal side. Read on, where we explore the following topics:
- When do CRPS patients need a lawyer?
- What is “step therapy” and does it work for CRPS?
- How the insurance companies are holding pain patients back
- What legal steps are taken in a CRPS case?
- What does an LOP provide for the client?
When do CRPS patients need a lawyer?
First, a lawyer with years of CRPS experience has the client’s best interest at heart. The answer to whether a person needs a lawyer after CRPS diagnosis lies in whether the diagnosis is due to surgical error, Medical Malpractice, or an accident. CRPS II has a definitive cause for the pain. Although regardless of Type, there is very little in the way of what can be done to relieve the pain for victims.
Rushing clients out the door with a minimal amount of compensation just to say the case was won is not a lawyer with moral standing. A lawyer with Board Certification will never treat their clients as a number. Furthermore, Board Certified lawyers are never “paper pushers” or “claims adjusters”. The latter are those who win thousands of cases simply because they recover some meager amount of compensation. Even if it wasn’t the highest amount for the client!
A Board Certified lawyer understands the situation the client has been placed in. Thus, they will have compassion for the circumstances. The best Personal Injury lawyers maintain a level head navigating the most difficult cases. Whether the case goes to trial or a settlement is reached, a lawyer with experience takes pride in preparation. Being Board Certified means a lawyer is held to the highest standard in their chosen specialty. That’s because Board Certification doesn’t come standard with the law degree.
What is “step therapy” and does it work for a CRPS diagnosis?
We published our first CRPS series of articles in 2018. In them, we explored the standard forms of medication doctors prescribe to CRPS patients as initial methods of pain control. These drugs are what’s known as “step therapy” and will be prescribed before experimental treatments or treatments with a higher risk of side effects are offered. While these first line pain control methods do work, not every patient will have success with the first treatment.
In certain cases, insurance companies may require “step therapy” regardless of a drug’s success rate. A “one size fits all” method of treatment is unfair to CRPS patients, specifically. These patients may have a better outcome with pain control techniques tailored to their severe chronic pain, even if it costs the insurance company more money.
The following treatments are considered first line treatment options for patients suffering from chronic pain:
- NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are known to treat moderate amounts of pain. Most NSAIDs (without codeine) are available over the counter and should be taken according to the instructions printed on the bottle. Some name brand NSAIDs are Excedrin, Motrin, and Advil. Prescription only NSAIDs include Celebrex, Voltaren-XR, and Ketorolac. Prescription NSAIDs are much stronger and require close monitoring by a physician.
- Anti-seizure medications: While these drugs were once strictly for the treatment of epilepsy, research is now showing doctors that they can effectively provide some relief-of-pain for those with a CRPS diagnosis. Lyrica, Elavil, Pamelor, and Cymbalta are in the group of the anti-seizure medications that are recommended by neurologists in cases of CRPS. Each case varies and not every case may see relief with anti-seizure medications.
- Opioids: Morphine, Hydrocodone, and Fentanyl are common prescription opioids for severe pain. These are drugs that are highly addictive. A patient and their physician enter into a “Pain Contract” where the patient agrees to abide by their state laws for opioid use. Most states now require “Pain Contracts” or the patient cannot receive the medication.
How are insurance companies harming patients with a CRPS diagnosis?
Even when following an insurance company’s request for step therapy compliance, treatments for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome are rarely covered in full due to the chronic nature of the disease and the lifelong treatment it requires. If it is covered, there are only certain treatments that the insurance company will pay for (even after complying with step therapy).
Experimental treatments and newer therapies are not usually covered. The medical bills patients sustain by paying out of pocket can be astronomical. The same can be said for Pain Management or “PM”. “PM” is a newer form of medicine that has risen to prominence for chronic pain patients over the last couple of decades. These therapies and treatments are often out of pocket for the already financially strained victim. Because of this, they continue to suffer for years without the correct medication and therapies that could afford them a better quality of life.
A CRPS diagnosis after Medical Malpractice
Unfortunately, there are victims who suffer the chronic pain of CRPS for the rest of their lives. In these cases, the victim places their trust in medical professionals’ duty of care. The patient may be lost after receiving a CRPS diagnosis. Upon learning they could very well be in pain for the rest of their lives, they experience feelings of depression. In Medical Malpractice cases it’s important for the victim to have a Board Certified lawyer on their side.
What legal steps are taken in a CRPS case?
When a lawyer agrees to take a client’s CRPS case, it’s usually because the diagnosis is found to be wholly due to Medical Malpractice. Therefore, the surgeon and the hospital are able to have litigation brought against them for their negligence. What happens next? When a patient afflicted by CRPS has secured a lawyer with experience in bringing successful CRPS lawsuits to verdict, the next step that follows the mountain of medical documentation and “Discovery”, there may be a Letter of Protection.
Board Certified Personal Injury lawyers are in the trenches. They know that behind the most complex cases are the victims who need justice the most.
Each case is different. So, as always, we encourage our readers to sit down for a consultation with a Board Certified lawyer regarding case specifics.