Vein Centers in Pittsburgh, PA: Same Old, Same Old

Vein Centers in Pittsburgh, PA: Same Old, Same Old

Einy Meeny Miny Mo – To Which Vein Center Should I Go? 

Why Some Varicose Vein Centers Offer So Much Free Stuff           

When vein centers lack the important credentials, training and qualifications, they have to make up for it somehow.

Just put yourself in their place.

To stay in business, what would you do?

How about:

  • giveaways
  • raffles
  • free screenings
  • free consultations
  • expensive advertisements on the radio and TV
  • credit cards loaded with free merchandise to bribe people for an initial consultation

Let’s look a little closer at how some vein centers in Pittsburgh have crossed the line:   

      1. Free screenings should only be an educational visit.

trap with free inscription, 3D rendering isolated on white backgroundThe problem is that Medicare considers this as free care.

That’s a big no no.

It’s free medical care when both a clinical examination and ultrasound are done to diagnose potential medical conditions before you are an official patient.

If done on a potential patient to diagnose a medical problem before a medical relationship has been established which includes a history and physical examination, it is officially an inducement. That is not allowed.

Both legally and medically, vein centers should refrain from ordering conservative therapy like stockings and/or diagnostic ultrasound Doppler testing until after doing a formal review of the patient’s condition.

Medicare and commercial insurance companies have significant issues with anything that can look like an inducement or enticement.

     2. Free consults are an enticement.

free sign

Don’t fall for free stuff offered at vein centers

Did you ever see a physician (other than one in the vein field) ever give away a free consultation?

How about to see a neurosurgeon, a gynecologist or an orthopedic surgeon?

Something fishy is going on here.

It doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Running a medical practice using a business model has a smell to it.

They have given away something of value.

Why would they do that – do you think?

To try to bring in more “business”?

Who doesn’t want something for free? Free is an amazing marketing technique.

The problem with giving a free consultation is that by giving away their time and expertise, this is an inducement.

That is plain old giving away of medical services.

There is no free lunch, remember? That’s because there are always strings attached.

     3. Offers of giveaways are commonplace.

At their tents, booths, and kiosks, they call them “freebies” – like water bottles, gift baskets, and tote bags which are meant to entice people to come to the office for a free consultation.


     4. Free ultrasound vein screenings are an enticement and are not allowed.

Federal health care program patients like Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, CHAMPUS, VA, CHP or Indian Health Service and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) are concerned with free screenings.

fraud red button on keyboard, business conceptThey may constitute an impermissible kickback to the patient.

The OIG allows a nominal bribe to be given to a potential patient. Their definition of a nominal value is $10.00 per item or $50 total per year. This is stated in 65 Fed. Reg. 24400, 24410-24411 from April 26, 2000.

Ordering tests and/or placing a patient in stockings at a screening meant that they made a diagnostic decision and acted on it prematurely.

That’s over the line according to governmental agencies and plain common sense.

     5. Some Pittsburgh vein centers offer raffles.

One vein center gave away a $250 Walmart gift Sweepstake card to a lady from Saxton, PA last Oct.4th

$20 to $25 gift cards are routine to entice people to come in for a free consultation.

     6. Many Pittsburgh vein centers advertise on TV, the radio and in print ads.

They also hire marketers (business development specialists) to organize tents and booths at senior events, fashion shows, YMCAs, wine tastings, regattas, yoga and Zumba classes, gyms, and fairs.

You get the idea.

Why are All of These Unusual Marketing Ploys Being Done?

These shenanigans hide their doctor’s true specialty in which they were trained.

They always say they are “board certified”.

In what, you should ask.

They purposely hide the fact that the vein center doctors practice medicine outside of their “scope of practice.”

The terms, scope of practice, describes the services that a health professional who is educated / trained and deemed competent to perform.

Here are the hidden truths about the varicose vein treatments done in Pittsburgh.

Let’s talk about the credentials to treat veins.

Med school grads aren’t prepared to practice medicine.

Doctors choose a specialty in which to practice after medical school. Some get burned out and want to quit. Instead they change fields without any additional training.

To pull this off, they have to enhance their qualifications in their new field to make it look good.

They confuse, obfuscate, and use complex medical terms.

Now in the public’s eye, they’re legitimate vein doctors (sarcasm implied).

In the eyes of the businessmen who run the vein franchise, no one will ever know.

We are Flooded by Claims of the Best of the Best

Claims of the ideal, the perfect, the scariest, the funniest, the greatest are everywhere.

So, who really is the very best vein doctor?

You want to know, who is the Mark Zuckerberg, the Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates of veins in Pittsburgh?

We’ll answer this question of which is the best vein center in Pittsburgh by the process of elimination.

Let’s eliminate those places right of the bat where the doctors don’t provide your treatments.

medical doctor

Don’t settle for a part-time doctor at the vein center that you choose

You know, the places where people complain that they never saw a doctor until the day of their laser treatment.

Those are also the vein centers where the doctor only works there part-time.


In those vein centers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and RNs really run the show.

The reason that the doctors only work there part-time is because they cost the vein center businessmen who run the vein franchise more money.

Remember, choose the vein specialist, not the vein center.

By just choosing any old vein center close to your house, the chances are good that you’ll be passed from provider to provider without even remembering their names let alone learn their qualifications or experience level.

People who come to see us for a second opinion from another vein center never remember the names of anyone who treated them.

That’s a real shame.

The Vein Center “Acid Tests”

Make sure the vein center that you choose has all of the following:

  1. A vascular surgeon vein specialist
  2. An accredited vein center
  3. An inspected vein center
  4. A Mayo Clinic fellowship trained vein specialist (with expert training in vascular disease)
  5. Experience of over three decades in the vein field by a vein specialist who will do all of your treatments personally

There’s only one vein center in Pittsburgh that fulfills all of these important criteria.

That’s the Happel Laser & Vein Center.


Beware of Greeks and vein centers offering free stuff.

Only a qualified vein specialist who has the deep and broad knowledge of your body’s blood vascular system can give you the most accurate diagnosis and treatment for your varicose veins.

Here’s how to choose the right varicose vein clinic in Pittsburgh.

woman holds white paper with word unqualified in officeA qualified vascular surgical specialist has the hands-on experience, the expertise and the proper training to treat your varicose veins with exactly the right procedures for your specific vein problem.

Qualified vs unqualified. That’s what makes the difference between safe and unsafe surgery and between good and bad outcomes.

Don’t fall into the trap of only choosing a vein doctor because of the location of their office and convenience. Ask yourself, whom can you trust?

All vein doctors and all vein centers are not the same.

That may sound simplistic but it needs to be stressed.

Surgical mistakes or unsatisfactory results often cannot be fixed.

Don’t wait to see if your condition worsens. Don’t wait until your varicose veins become so bad that complications result.

Get an evaluation by a qualified board certified vascular surgeon for your best chance of a great result!

Call us at 724-969-066 or click here for a consultation.

Fun fact: Sorry it’s not free but your insurance will probably cover it.

About The Author

Dr. John Happel

Dr. John Happel has been in practice as a surgeon since 1986 in the Pittsburgh region. He specializes in vascular surgery and has subspecialized in the treatment of varicose and spider veins since 1999. Dr. Happel is board certified in vascular surgery and recertified in vascular surgery in 2012. He was chosen in 1985 to fulfill the position for the vascular surgical fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.