When you are in pain, it is sometimes difficult to focus on anything else in your life.
At Mercy Medical Center, we take time to listen to and understand your individual concerns. Whether you suffer from temporary pain due to illness, injury, chronic cancer-related pain or end-of-life pain, we are here to help you.
Referral and Consultation
Patients are referred to the Mercy Center for Pain Medicine by their family physician or other specialist.
A physical exam as well as complete pain history is performed by the pain physician. Length of consult time varies depending on the complexity of the pain problem. Medical records are obtained prior to your appointment time. The physician will review all your past medical treatments and then will be able to develop your individual treatment plan.
The treatment options we offer are as numerous as the ailments we see.
- Epidural steroid injection for herniated disc and other spinal disorders
- Various nerve blocks
- Trigger point injections for myofascial pain syndrome
- Continuous epidural anesthetic and/or opioid infusion for certain cancer-related pain and complex regional pain syndromes
- Intercostal nerve block for post herpetic neuralgia pain/shingles pain
- Other aggressive pain therapies such as radiofrequency ablation/ rhizotomy and dorsal column (spinal cord) stimulation
Measuring Your Pain
You will frequently be asked to rate your pain to evaluate whether the medicine is working or if it needs adjustment or changed. We use a scale of 1 to 10, zero = no pain and it increases to 10 = worst pain possible.
Mercy Center for Pain Medicine is on the third floor of the West building at Mercy Medical Center. We ask patients to arrive 30 minutes prior to your appointment to complete the registration process.
Please complete all forms you receive in the mail prior to your appointment. Also bring: A list of your medications and dosages,your x-rays and other films, pain history form, copies of medical records of past pain management. Consider having a friend or family member drive you home from the appointment.
It is important for us to know if you cannot keep your scheduled appointment to help facilitate access for other patients. We understand that emergencies do occur, but we do ask that you please cancel appointments as far ahead of appointment time as possible. It is our policy that if a patient has not arrived, or has cancelled 2 (two) appointments (barring emergencies), the patient will need to contact their referring physician for Pain Center re-admission procedure.
A pain clinician is a nurse with an extensive background and education in pain practices who is available to assist with the management of patients with pain.
Pain clinicians assist with patients across the spectrum of health care including those in the hospital, home care, hospice, subacute/extended care facilities and physician clinics. All services of pain clinicians are rendered without cost to patients, as this is deemed an organizational focus in keeping with our moral responsibility for the delivery of care.
Development of pain protocols, policies and medication guidelines are all examples of items available to assist with optimal pain treatments. This has enabled practitioners to put pain management information and research into practice. Providing direction to the pain management program is the Pain Committee - a medical staff committee with interdisciplinary membership. We believe pain clinicians provide a unique approach to accentuating pain management.
Q: Should I only take pain medicine when I have bad pain?
A: Pain is easier to control when it is mild. This may mean taking your pain medicine on a regular or "scheduled" basis. You should take your pain medicine when you start to notice pain. Waiting too long can make it much harder to control.
Q: What if my pain medicine makes me sick to my stomach?
A: Sometimes pain medicine can upset your stomach. There are medicines we can use to relieve this. Sometimes your pain medicine will be changed to make this better.
Q: Will my pain medicine make me constipated?
A: Constipation is a common side effect of pain medicine. You can still take your medicine for pain. Check with your doctor or nurse about using a laxative or stool softener to prevent constipation.
Q: What if my pain medicine makes me too sleepy?
A: Pain medicine can make you drowsy at first. Often this will go away after the first few doses. Check with your doctor if drowsiness lasts longer than a couple of days.
Q: Will I become addicted to pain medicine?
A: When pain medication is used on a short-term basis to control pain, you will not become addicted to it. When your pain is controlled, you will feel better, move better and your risk of complications such as pneumonia or blood clots is greatly reduced.
Fees and Insurance
Mercy Center for Pain Medicine is a hospital outpatient clinic at Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines. The billing process for this type of facility is known as provider-based or hospital outpatient billing. This method of billing means patients receive two separate bills. One bill will come from Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines for a facility charge. A second bill will come from Medical Center Anesthesiologists (MCA) for the professional services provided by your doctor.
The method of billing mentioned above follows a national model of billing practices and mimics the process for billing patients who receive care during a stay at the hospital. Patients who receive two bills are not being over-charged for the visit. Rather, the overall amount billed is divided accordingly and sent from the organization providing the actual service.
Insurance plans vary greatly and many pay for health care services provided in an outpatient hospital clinic differently than those provided in a doctor’s office. Individual insurance plans may require patients to meet an annual deductible before paying for health care services received at an outpatient hospital clinic.
Insurance companies may also require patients to pay a percentage of the bill, known as co-insurance, rather than an office co-payment. Patients are encouraged to review their insurance benefits or contact their individual insurance provider to determine the level of coverage and identify any out-of-pocket expenses that may result from this doctor’s visit.