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Southern Pain SpecialistsInsulting physician - terrible experience

W Review updated:

This was the most negative, demoralizing experience I have ever had with a health care provider or with anyone for that matter. Strangely, he refused to review my MRI films or reports, years of medical records and all the documentation of tests I've undergone. He not only dismissed each and every one of my long-established diagnoses (that I'd been receiving treatment for almost the past decade and a half), but he also ignored the surgical scar on my neck from a recent discectomy/anterior cervical fusion and he did not even conduct a physical examination on me. Basically, he managed only to insult me, waste my time, deprive me of treatment, waste my insurance company's money (as well as my co-pay), roll his eyes and brusquely argue that nothing was wrong with me! He was arguing so hatefully and haughtily, speaking to me as if I were a complete and total idiot. Just unbelievable. As soon as he stepped into the exam room, he immediately started in with his dismissive, antagonistic tirade.

Since the mid-1990s, I've undergone numerous tests ordered and reviewed by not only GPs, but endocrinologists, rheumatologists, neurologists and various specialists, who are among the state's top doctors. Those tests not only confirmed diagnoses; they ruled things out. So, my records contain very definitive medical evidence. When I was in my early 20s, I was diagnosed with an AI problem that causes chronic pain and physical impairments, and has to be monitored & treated effectively with physical therapy and successful treatment of the chronic pain to help me function normally. I detest having to take medication of any kind, but it's a simple fact of life I have to deal with. It isn't a choice. If I want to function normally and overcome my impairments, medication is just something that has to be incorporated into my treatment. A health care provider with no compassion for a patient's pain has no compassion, period. There is nothing wrong with medicines, if they are taken correctly and the patient is following the doctor's treatment plan correctly.

Anyway, at the time I saw Dr. Varley, I'd been treated for this problem for almost 1/3 of my life; I'd also been injured in a car accident, which only worsened the chronic illness. I couldn't believe he was so hostile, rude, demeaning, argumentative -- and wouldn't look at a single page of my records, yet he'd somehow made up his mind that nothing was wrong with me whatsoever. He directly accused me of lying to try to get "drugs, " when I never said one single word about medication, and never ASKED for anything! This was TOTALLY off base, inappropriate and unprofessional. I was thoroughly shocked and insulted. It was all I could do to not get up and walk out right then. But I felt that maybe it was some type of test to see how patients react, because pain doctors do assess the behavior and personality of new patients. If this was what he were doing, mind you, it would be an extremely unorthodox manner in which to do it, but it was so outlandish that I felt he couldn't possibly be serious... because there was nothing at all on which to base his accusatory statement.

In my mid-30's, I look younger than my chronological age. He tore into me and said, "You look fine. You don't look sick." People who suffer from disabilities and/or chronic illnesses, particularly autoimmune disorders and spinal injuries, are all too familiar with such statements from doctors who are ignorant. Often, people who deal with chronic ailments push themselves to function and do their very best to cover up all their symptoms and impairments so no one will notice. We don't want pity; we don't want attention. We just want to live normal lives, be good parents, good employees, good spouses or partners - and be no different than anyone else. Drawing attention to our health problems is not something we want to do.

So often, chronic illness sufferers do not wear their health problems on their sleeve - and at a glance, they largely look no different than anyone else. Consider the diabetics, people with heart disease, RA or other forms of arthritis and the many, many other problems people suffer from that are largely not immediately visible to others. This does not negate their problems. Just because an illness or condition is not obvious does not make it less real, less painful nor does it marginalize it to any degree. One does not have to possess a slovenly, sloppy, hunched-over appearance in order to legitimize their health problem. Any physician worth his or her salt should KNOW this. Additionally, speaking to any patient with utter contempt, sheer disrespect and treating them like common trash is reprehensible for a health care provider. Such an attitude should preclude one from seeking a career in the medical profession -- if there is such contempt and hatred inside that one would feel compelled to make a person feel less than human.

Some doctors do not care one iota about patient care; their goal is to garner invitations to as many medical conferences as they can possibly get so their egos can be fed by standing in front of a crowd of their peers spouting off what passes as knowledge. Recognition and prestige are more important than actually helping people achieve wellness. This is such a shame, especially when unhealthy people find their way into the exam room of such a health care provider. It can be simply devastating, as it not only delays proper treatment, but it prolongs and compounds suffering to be treated so hatefully by someone who is supposed to be a respected doctor.

After dismissing all my health problems, proclaiming me "healthy" because I'm not overweight and show no immediate signs of illness or impairment (except for the fairly fresh surgical scar he STILL missed) - and accusing me of grubbing for "drugs, " he began talking to me about invasive procedures like nerve blocks and epidurals. Now, I went from having "nothing" wrong with me to needing an expensive intraspinal injection that costs several hundred dollars! I thought he would at least recommend physical therapy or some kind of non-invasive treatment that included standard intramuscular injections, but he vehemently said that he only performs intraspinal procedures. But, naturally, these are not recommended for all types of chronic pain conditions, and definitely not with someone who has a spinal fusion. Plus, I'm not supposed to be administered any kind of steroids. When I brought up my surgery, he was DONE with me!

He became even more dismissive because I cannot undergo invasive procedures due to my spinal "hardware." He so crassly and cruelly lambasted me after asking me if particular prescription medications had helped me. When I told him they hadn't, he looked at me with utter hatred and contempt and said, "WHY NOT?!" His hateful tone of voice took me aback. During the entire visit, he was accusatory, rude, curt, aggressive, hostile and completely demeaning. I already felt bad enough, but to be spoken to like a lesser being brought me to tears. This experience was nothing like being at a doctor's office. It was obvious this arrogant, impudent, elitist bully thinks everyone else is ignorant and beneath his feet. This is not the type of bedside manner that anyone deserves to be confronted with. This is not the behavior or attitude of a healer. This is not the demeanor of a positive soul who cares about others and seeks to guide the sick and injured to improved function and wellness. A true healer and a real medical professional would keep an open mind, thoroughly review files to better understand a patient's established diagnoses, and would NOT make stark generalizations that go beyond implications into full-blown accusations.

During the time of the visit, I was having a lot of problems with ataxia. He actually rolled his eyes and huffed sarcastically, as if I was putting on an act. This was devastating. I'd been suffering falls - and I continued to have them after this visit because nothing was done. I was so profoundly weak, lethargic and in extreme pain, so it was extremely demoralizing the way he methodically disparaged me personally, renounced each of my diagnosed problems (that I had to tell him about because he would not even review my file), and resolved to develop no plan of care for me. Because he did not examine me, he also missed some serious problems that weren't yet diagnosed. For three more months, I suffered until I finally found a wonderful physician who is quite knowledgeable and has a very positive, upbeat personality with his patients.

I feel very badly for people who are surprised and very insulted by such ill treatment when they are only seeking effective medical treatment so they can get better and live normally once again. I definitely understand what a tremendous setback it is as far as wasted time, being absolutely castigated and told you are faking all your health problems. It was the worst experience I've ever had interacting with a health care provider. It's just downright unbelievable how rude, insulting, scornful, arrogant, contemptuous and accusatory the bedside manner is. I got a good laugh when I read several doctor ratings website where it was quite obvious that one of his staff members wrote the review! They called themselves "charming and wonderful staff." It couldn't have been any more obvious that his staff was responsible for that little blurb. They obviously learned their mannerisms from their boss, because they were just as rude and hateful as the doctors in their office. The other doctor will trap you in his office and just go on and on obsessively, talking about the pit bulls he breeds.

Every single person I have spoken to had the very same experience, so that definitely confirmed their insolence had nothing to do with me personally. I just wish I'd gotten up and left after the first minute of hostility and insults.


  • Ja
    Janet Banks Jul 10, 2019

    Seems to me that the ex-employee may be harboring some negative feelings - but I don't know that for sure. We have never had a bad experience with Dr. Varley. My husband has been seeing him for many years. As a matter of fact, he gave me his personal cell phone number one weekend when my husband was in the ER and no one would do anything to help him. He was in excruciating pain, but since we didn't have a general doctor that would sign off to admit him, they wanted to send him home (he couldn't walk from a nerve that was pressed up against his spine). Dr. Varley willingly signed off on having him admitted and helped us with the whole situation - and even followed up with us a few days later. I am sure that there are some doctors that may clash with certain personalities, I am not sure if this is the case in the comments above, but we have never had a problem with him.

    0 Votes
  • Mi
    MissLizzy Apr 04, 2017

    I had one procedure with Dr. Varley while my regular pain specialist was out of town for an extended amount of time, and he and his NP were awful. Claimed that there was nothing wrong, even suggested I needed pain pills when I did not ask for any pain meds!!
    I was a nurse, who was struck by a car just as I had stepped out onto the sidewalk while heading into work. The large, black car was driven by a little, old, retired doctor. He had hit another automobile and his airbag opened up, then he stomped the gas from what I was told. I was hit and was critically injured.
    I used to work on an outpatient unit with this pain specialist and his NP and had seen how rude he could be. I know that there are times when a physician gets tired of "drug seekers, " and needs to protect himself from liability, however, when someone doesn't even ask for pain meds and is judged as being a pill seeking patient, it isn't right. If he doesn't review a patient's medical records or even assess a patient, then he is not practicing medicine to the extent of his education and so called expertise. It can be viewed as fraud by some. I will never recommend him to anyone.

    1 Votes
  • De
    Detroit2112 Jul 20, 2016
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I completely agree!

    -1 Votes
  • Ha
    HappyPainMgmtPt Apr 16, 2016

    I am also calling BS! I can only laugh about this because it couldn't be further from the truth! I've used Dr. Varley for at least 3 years now. His goal is to FIX your pain rather than medicate you and he's EXTREMELY GIFTED when it comes to figuring out what is making you hurt. It's not possible to do this without listening to your patients and taking them seriously.

    I trust this man with my life and would pay out of pocket to see him if I had to. And no, I've never even seen him outside of my office visits.

    4 Votes
  • To
    To young to be done Feb 13, 2015

    Well ok well1 did you not read the word Anesthesiologist next to his name he's mostly a procedural Dr. Which is much better than a pill pushing pain mgt clinic that keeps you coming back every month for drugs that don't fix the problem but actually make it worse. I had a doc like dr. Varley I went from flat on my back to high heals driving and exercising again he died and everyone told me to go see dr. V he's kept me moving and my quality of life is great. My body went through hell in the Army. Then an accident nearly killed me, I was modeling, repelling, skating, snowboarding, running 10 miles a day and bam got hit by a truck broke my back in 3 places fractured my legs neck and hips and was diagnosed with stage 2 MS everyone missed the MS my whole life until that accident. I was devastated. So I can't say enough good things about this Dr. He picked right up where my other left off. I'm 51 spent 7 years of my 40's unable tho function properly so I have to wonder why he would treat me with respect and you with disrespect I've seen him treat a good many patients and never be hateful. I'm now teaching my grandchild to roller skate what a wonderful life

    2 Votes
  • Ub
    Ubadkarma Sep 16, 2014

    I have NEVER seen so much negative feedback/comments on a physician!! Well1 just sounds like a very frustrated person who lives daily with chronic pain & just wants relief rather than pain medication. As Well1 stated they were already on pain meds & not seeking anything from Dr. Varley except relief. Pain meds have their place in chronic pain patients but many times does not take ALL pain completely away. However, they do help to take some pain away so quality of life is better. Just reading the response from "truthhurts" shows how insensitive this medical group is & how judging someone so harshly simply for seeking help not medication is a pathetic employee who knows NOTHING about what life is like for a chronic pain person. They are obviously hired by this Dr. to go on all reviews sites & "clean up" after this Dr. Well1, I hear your pain & frustration & am very happy you have found a Dr. who is understanding & has a bedside manner that ALL great physicians have. Personally, I have brought up Dr. Varley's name to the specialist I see for a painful auto-immune disease I have (rated #1 in his field) & also to my family Dr. & they both said, "NO, do not go to him". He obviously does not have respect from his peers! As for me, I definitely will not be seeing him! As for his "clean-up" crew, no need to respond to my comment here as it will be a waste of your time, but then again, your responses to negative reviews & your adamant denials of being an employee for this quack are very comical to me! Fellow pain sufferers, there are several great pain Dr.'s. I have had great care with the Trinity/Montclair Pain Physicians! Alabama Pain Physicians...go to their website & read about each ones speciality...they are all excellent physicians! With internet review sites now available to the public to read & make educated decisions about how you spend your time, money & effort, why bother wasting any of your resources! Read about ANY Dr.s you may have, & the truth usually prevails. With all of Varley's negative experiences/comments, there is NO WAY all of these are lies!

    3 Votes
  • Rk
    rktrainman Jun 28, 2013

    I have been seeing Dr. Varley for several years and he has always been kind and caring and does everything in his power to help you.sign trainman

    2 Votes
  • Oh
    OhHappyDay7 Feb 09, 2011

    Clearly this person has issues. Dr. Varley & his staff CARE about their patients. Anyone in their mid-30's surely doesn't want to take narcotics the rest of their life. Dr.Varley gets to the bottom of your pain & gets rid of the pain. He does not just cover it up with drugs.
    I have been going to Dr. Varley for almost 6 months now. I have steriod injections & epidurals, sometimes as much as every two weeks, then sometimes up to two months apart. My problem is not just one area, but is many areas & he can only do two cortisone injections per two weeks.
    I am so glad I started going to him. I got my life back. I was scared about the injections at first, but that is the only thing he does, so he's a specialist. He is quite an amazing doctor.
    Another, VERY happy patient. :)

    4 Votes
  • Tr
    traffic Aug 12, 2010

    I call complete BS on this review. I have been treated by Dr. Varley a few times and he has been nothing but helpful, professional, and explains medical problems in ways a lay person can understand. He and the staff are wonderful people. It's sad that some try to maliciously slander a hardworking professional because they didn't get their script filled.

    4 Votes
  • Lo
    Lovesswimming Jul 13, 2010

    I find your complaint to be a bit misleading. You stated that, " I got a good laugh when I read several doctor ratings website where it was quite obvious that one of his staff members wrote the review! They called themselves "charming and wonderful staff." It couldn't have been any more obvious that his staff was responsible for that little blurb".

    Well, I wrote that review you claim was written by his staff memebers. You blasted me on the ratings website and I kindly responded to you. I am not, nor have I ever been employeed by Dr. Varley. I am not in his circle for friends. I am not politically linked to Dr. Varley, nor anyone on his staff. "They" did not call the staff anything. I did. I do find the staff charming and wonderful. I am greatful for the care I have received from Dr. Varley and his staff.

    I can understand that the experience you had with Dr. Varley is greatly different than what I have experienced. I am glad that you have found wonderful doctor.

    In addition, you stated that, "Every single person I have spoken to had the very same experience, so that definitely confirmed their insolence had nothing to do with me personally". You left a rather nasty reply to my posting. I responded to you that I did not have the same experience as you. I have a pleasant experience each and every visit. The staff are all kind and caring. Dr. Varley is kind and caring. The treatments I receive manage my chronic pain. I've never experienced any hostility, rudeness, or insults from Dr. Varley nor his staff. Unfortunately, I have received these from you.

    I wish you well and much success in your battle with chronic pain. As a satisfied patient of Dr. Varley, I only wish that you had experienced the wonderful care that I experience with Dr. Varley and his staff.


    A very happy patient.

    3 Votes
  • Tr
    TruthHurts2010 Jun 03, 2010

    Makes one wonder what REALLY ticked Well1 off so much? The writing above is perfect in all ways: grammatically, literally and in composition. Very descriptive, albeit annoyingly repetitive. In fact, the whole thing is too perfect, as if written by a professional whiner who took the time and made the effort to... whine. I am not sure if I have been informed about this doctor's practice, or whether we are reading the rantings of an unsatisfied "customer." Clearly, there was some bad chemistry there. Even Jesus had his detractors. I am sure everybody is delighted that the epistle writer's 15-year quest for a "wonderful" doctor is finally over. All is well when it ends well.

    3 Votes
  • Tr
    TruthHurts2010 Jun 03, 2010

    So, does the above mean you did not get your narcotic prescription?

    1 Votes
  • Su
    SuperVepr Jul 10, 2009

    I have seen exactly the same thing. Not all docs are created the same.

    1 Votes

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