10 Red Flags to Look For When Considering Stem Cell Treatments

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When browsing through the newspaper or scrolling through Facebook, it is common to find advertisements such as the following:

“Considering knee replacement surgery?” Find out how Our progressive, non-evasive, regenerative therapies can help you today?

“Say goodbye to joint pain…. Permanently!”  Our therapy utilizes a proven and effective technique coupled with the amazing regenerative powers of amniotic and umbilical cord stem cells. 

“Find out if regenerative medicine is right for you!”  Join us at our upcoming seminar. 

As a physician specializing in regenerative medicine and having had the opportunity to teach about it nationally and internationally, when I run across these advertisements, my interest is peaked because I have rarely heard of the advertised practitioners.  When I come upon a new name, I do some research to find out who these people are, what their credentials and training are, and what types of procedures they are doing. My findings have varied as I have researched each individual ad. 

I found that one of the ads was from a “board certified medical physician”.  I have no idea what this means other than the physician in question graduated from medical school.  For all I know, this person may not have completed a residency or have post-medical school training.  Being a “board certified medical physician” does not indicate proficiency in anything other than passing the board exams following medical school but says nothing concerning training or ability in the regenerative field.

Another ad I came across had no contact information except a phone number.  I called the number to learn more.  I soon found out I was calling an answering service in Idaho, which is strange as the ad specifically reads, located in Utah.  They wanted to schedule me for a free seminar.  When I inquired as to what doctor would be performing the procedure I was told it would be a nurse practitioner under the direction of a chiropractor.  As for a medical doctor, there wasn’t one, the injections were administered by a nurse practitioner in Utah as the chiropractor cannot inject and nurse practitioners can, regardless of training.  

Another ad led me to a website here in Utah but did not state who would be performing the procedure.  In fact, I had a hard time finding any information about any practitioners. They were obviously attempting to keep something from me.  So, I called to find out that this was, once again, a chiropractic office employing a nurse practitioner to perform the injections.  

This may not raise red flags for you but as a physician that completed a residency and a couple of fellowships that occupied 5 years of my life, not including the 4 years of medical school, I find these ads and promises very disturbing for many reasons.  Prior to considering any course of regenerative treatments, I would encourage you to look for the following red flags and get answers. 

1.       The provider is not a doctor (MD or DO)

2.       The doctor is not trained in a musculoskeletal specialty  

3.       Promises to treat any painful conditions with stem cells

4.       Difficulty locating a physical clinic or address

5.       Difficulty determining the credentials of the provider

6.       The procedures are not performed with some form of guidance (i.e. ultrasound)

7.       The procedure is abnormally expensive, ranging from 5-10K

8.       The procedure is administered in a hotel

9.       Misinformation about amniotic tissue vs the patient’s own stem cells- if the practitioner lists the benefits of one method vs another, they may not have the ability or training to perform the other secondary to a limited skill set

10.   The clinic is run by someone other than a doctor (MD or DO). Please note, that in many cases chiropractors or acupuncturists will hire a nearly-retired physician to legitimize their use of regenerative medicine. 

We’re ALWAYS happy to talk with you about any questions you have about any procedure. Call our office at 801-610-7321.

  • Dr. Craig Chappell