Frequently Asked Questions

The following information answers our patients’ most common questions, but we always have time to deal with your personal concerns. If you don’t find your answer here, please ask.

Contacting Us

Our orthopedic staff is available during regular business hours Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm. You may use our online appointment request form at any time to request an appointment at Orthopaedic Specialties of Tampa Bay, or, call us directly.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Herrema or Dr. Howell by phone, please call (727) 446-5993 (Ext. 110)

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Marcotte or Dr. Venezia by phone, please call (727) 449-2599 (Ext. 304)

What Kind of Care Does the Center Offer

Our orthopedic doctors specialize in orthopaedic care and rehabilitation. Orthopedic medicine treats diseases, disorders and injuries of muscles, bones and joints. We deal daily with broken bones, general bone or joint diseases, hand and foot problems, sports injuries, spinal disorders, scoliosis, pediatric orthopedic problems and many other bone/ muscle/joint ailments.

Surgery is but one option for many orthopedic conditions, and in this office it is usually the last option. Depending on your diagnosis, we may be able to use braces, casts, physical therapy or medication to treat your condition.

Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two ailments or injuries are alike either. For this reason we may conduct a series of tests or x-rays before we begin treatment. Your unique condition and personal needs always guide us in choosing methods of treatment that are right for you.

You, too, are a key player on the team that is working to make you well. Often we find clues to peoples’ ailments just by listening, so we need to hear your questions and concerns. Ask us anything; there ARE no frivolous questions. Experience has shown us when you take an active part in your own diagnosis and treatment you get well faster.

About Appointments

The appointment system at our orthopedic practice is designed to shorten the amount of time you wait to see a doctor. However, emergencies do happen. If you ever find yourself having to wait, we hope you’ll remember that some day the person needing our immediate attention could be you. Appointments are made during our regular office hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For after-hours emergencies, just call our 24-hour answering service at (727) 562-6713 to help you reach the doctor on call. If you have to cancel your appointment for any reason, please let us know as far in advance as you can. Your courtesy may free up that time and help another patient.  A $25 fee will be assessed to those patients who do not cancel within 24 hours of appointment.

Personal History

Our personal history paper work will have questions about your ailment, your general health, etc. Some questions will be personal but every question is important and helps our doctor help you. Anything you tell us is strictly confidential and will be released only with your approval.

Evaluation Only

If you were referred for “evaluation only” or “IME only” by another doctor, an insurance company, or an attorney, please be aware that this is the only service our doctor can provide. We are not authorized to give treatment or prescriptions to an “evaluation only” patient.

Evaluation & Treatment

Insurance carriers insist that “evaluation and treatment” or “IME and treatment” must be authorized before any treatment begins. If you were referred to us for evaluation and treatment by an insurance company or attorney, your Orthopaedic Specialties doctor will examine you and schedule or conduct necessary tests. He will then make a preliminary diagnosis and begin a treatment program that is right for you.


Orthopedic Specialties is a non-smoking property. Tobacco smoke has been proven to harm the smoker and “secondhand smoke” will harm others.

Hospitals/Emergency Care

If you have a life-threatening emergency, always dial 911 first. One of our doctors is always available for urgent orthopaedic problems. When the office is closed, call tour answering service Bay Area Medical Exchange, (727) 562-6713 and our answering service will reach the doctor on call. Our doctors respond to emergencies at the following area hospitals.

Morton Plant Hospital
300 Pinellas St.
Clearwater, FL
(727) 462-7000

Largo Medical Center
201 14th Street S.W.
Largo, FL
(727) 588-5200

Prescription Refills

Don’t wait until you run out of medicine to call for a refill. In fact, call at least two days ahead. In order to protect you, your doctor must review your medical file before renewing a prescription. Our orthopedic doctors rotate between the local hospitals and our two offices. It could be 24 hours after you call before your doctor can review your file. The files are reviewed and prescriptions are called to pharmacies at the end of office hours after all patients have been seen.

About Narcotics

By law, doctors cannot order refills for narcotics over the phone. A written prescription is required. You must obtain your refill prescription in person or by mail, and take it to your pharmacist to have it filled.


We work hard to make sure you receive the best orthopedic care available, and we also work to keep our fees as low as possible. Our fees are comparable to other orthopedic groups in and around Clearwater. We charge a fee for your office visit; then each item or service (x-rays, laboratory tests, casts, splints, etc.) is billed separately. Estimates can be provided for surgeries, and deposits are sometimes required. We are always willing to discuss charges with our patients. If you need some time to pay for our service, we are happy to help you set up an easy payment plan.


It is customary to pay for medical care the day it is received. Unless you make prior arrangements or are covered by an HMO, PPO or Medicare plan, you should arrange to pay at the time of each visit to our office. For your convenience we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, cash, or personal check.

Note: There is a charge for any returned check.

$25 does not exceed $50
$30 does not exceed $50 – $3000
$40 does not exceed $300 or an amount of 5% of Facevalue

Our orthopedic office will be glad to work out an individual payment plan with you if necessary, and if you request it in advance. In return, we expect you to make regular, on-time monthly payments. We can, however, charge your unpaid balance to your credit card at any time.


We mail statements monthly. Payments are due upon receipt. If you have a hardship and need more time to pay, please speak with our billing department at (727) 298-0423 right away. We can always work out something if you talk with us, but failure to call us could leave us no choice but to ask for full payment of your account.


Private Companies

Insurance coverage is an agreement between you and your insurance company. You expect your insurance to pay, and we expect you to make sure we are paid. To help you collect from your insurance, we will complete all your medical insurance claim forms and send them in on your behalf so that your insurance company can pay us directly. Any remaining balance that is not covered by your insurance is your responsibility. If you and your insurance pay us more than you owe, we will send the over payment back to you.


We participate in Medicare. When you receive treatment you are responsible for your annual deductible, any items not covered, and the 20% not paid by Medicare. We will mail you a statement each month showing any payment activity on your account. As a Medicare patient, you should not make payments until Medicare has considered your claim and mailed an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) form to you. Orthopaedic Specialties is a participating provider in Medicare HMO Plans and Medicare Replacement Plans. Medicare HMO and PPO Replacement Plans are different from Medicare Supplemental Plans or GAP. If you are unsure of your plan benefits, please contact your insurance company for more information and providers covered in your plan.

HMOs and PPOs

If you are covered by an HMO or PPO, each one has different insurance arrangements and claim procedures. Some require deductibles and co-payments which you must pay. Our staff will work with you to see that you receive your full benefits.

Please call our billing office at (727) 298-0423 if you have any questions regarding your specific insurance.

Disability Forms & Attorneys’ Reports

You may sometimes need a document completed. An example is a disability form. We will be happy to complete any appropriate form you bring to our office but you must allow at least 72 hours for completions of such forms. If your attorney needs reports or forms, we’ll be happy to respond to his or her written request, but only with your signed approval. Depending on the request, some charges may need to be prepaid by either you or your attorney.

Your Medical Records & X-rays

Your records and x-rays are kept in strict confidence as part of our permanent file. We will release copies only if we have your written permission. Copies of records and x-rays are available for you in person or by mail. Please give us at least 24 hours notice prior to coming in and picking up records or x-rays as it does take some time to get things together for you. Call us at (727) 446-5993 (Ext. 304) to request your medical records.