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Howard B. Cotler
Howard B. Cotler, MD, is board certified and recertified in orthopaedic surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

Our Office Policies and Procedures

What to expect when you visit us:

Gulf Coast Spine Care offers a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and care of neck and back problems. This includes the full spectrum of non-surgical and surgical treatments of most conditions of the adult spine.

At GCSC, it is our goal to provide timely consultations, so that you may begin to both understand the nature of your condition and address your symptoms with an appropriate treatment plan.

In general, our first choice is always to treat your disorder nonoperatively. However, our ultimate recommendation will depend on a thorough patient evaluation, which may consist of the following:

  • Medical History
  • Physical Exam
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Psychological Profile

After your examination and consultation, you will receive an explanation of what is thought to be your current problem. We will develop a treatment plan to meet your unique needs. It will probably involve a variety of elements, including some of the following:

  • Change of Diet
  • Change of Lifestyle
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Exercise and Conditioning
  • Injections
  • Massage Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy

Education is also an important part of our approach. We believe that the more you know about your disorder, the better. It will enable you to choose wisely among your options, whether simply to live with the problem, pursue nonoperative treatment or undergo surgery.
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Preparing for your visit

Policy on Medications

We understand how severe spine pain can be, and we will be using a variety of methods to reduce your discomfort. At the same time, we will be trying to cut back on the amount of medication you take because of the potential for addiction or adverse side effects. In this light, it is very important that you understand our basic policy on medications.
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Refills and Changes of Medication

Your doctor will refill or change your prescription only during an office visit. Medications will never be refilled or changed by phone. Please keep track of how much medication you are using. If you are having trouble controlling your pain with the amount prescribed, call for an appointment to discuss this with the doctor.
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If you are having severe pain, weakness, paralysis or loss of bowel/bladder control, call our office immediately so that we can expedite your care at the closest emergency room or arrange an interhospital transfer. If you have complications from your medication, such as a rash or itching skin, call our office at any time. If it is after hours, the doctor will be paged by the answering service.
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Office Policies

Ofice hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Payment for an office visit is expected at the time of service.

The staff will be happy to assist you in filling out your insurance forms. If you are a new patient, please come half an hour early in order to fill out paperwork or download the following pdfs and fill out prior to your visit.

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When it is necessary to cancel an appointment,
please do so 24 hrs. in advance.
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What to bring to your appointment:

  • All radiology studies pertaining to your current medical problem. They should be recent and include either x-rays, MRI or a CT scan.
  • Prior medical records when possible, such as operative reports, EMG and nerve conduction results. Also include consultations from other physicians, particularly those from your referring physician.
  • A complete list of all medications you are currently taking.
  • Your insurance card, co-payment, and billing form. You may want to check with our office staff at 713-523-8884 if you have any questions regarding coverage by your insurance plan.
  • If Worker’s Compensation is involved, then written pre-authorization and fee agreement must be obtained prior to setting up an appointment. Our office staff will help you with this. Please have the following information available for the staff when booking your appointment: your employer’s name and address; W/C claim number; insurance carrier’s name and address; insurance adjuster’s name, phone and fax numbers and date of work-related injury.
  • The names, phone numbers, and addresses of all physicians involved in your care. Please be sure to include you Primary Care Physician’s contact information.
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Personal Treatment Plan

We appreciate your patience and cooperation. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office at 713-523-8884.