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Dutchess_III's avatar

If you went to the ER and they totally misdiagnosed you and sent you home...and you almost died, would you pay that bill?

Asked by Dutchess_III (26710 points ) January 6th, 2013

I’m looking at this bill, just grinding my teeth. They took X-rays and called it ‘bronchitis’ when it was pneumonia. I was in pain and my lung was 80% FULL of crap at that point…and they missed it. Sent me home. Another week went by…and I wound up rushed to the hospital via ambulance.

Do I have any recourse? Any ideas?

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24 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Of course you pay it. If you think they committed malpractice, you should talk to a lawyer about that. That is your recourse in the American system.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Got a few thousand dollars I can borrow for litigation @wundayatta?
IDK. If you hire someone to come in and clean the house and they don’t do it, you wouldn’t pay them!

Coloma's avatar

Their misdiagnosis still involved all the testing and ER staff attention etc. I would certainly dispute it, but don’t get your hopes up. There was a man a few years ago that was diagnosed with a terminal condition, went out and spent all his money and then was told..” Oops, we made a mistake.”
The hospital/doctors claimed that they were not infallible and mistakes happen, which they do.

Great, the 64 yr. old guy didn’t die but now he is flat broke. Amazing!
So sorry about this, what a pain in the chest. :-)

Shippy's avatar

My mom was diagnosed with stress headache when in fact she was hemorrhaging on the brain. Four days later she went into a coma. This caused brain surgery later, as it was so bad. She suffered such severe brain damage, as the bleed had caused so much pressure in her skull. She was more or less a child of 5 when she came back to us after the operation. Plus was impaired for life. All unnecessary.

The only way is to go to the MDA. Or whatever it is called in the USA (Medical & Dental Association). Or if you have, a Medical Ombudsman. But good luck with that, since they are the toughest nuts to crack as they cover up and stick together all the way through.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh God, @Shippy. How horrible. I will never bitch about anything again. :(

wundayatta's avatar

Oh, you don’t need any money to hire a malpractice lawyer, @Dutchess_III. They work for a percentage of what they win. They won’t take the case if they don’t think they can win. A consultation is free.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I did not know that @wundayatta! Thanks! But you can still send me money. :)

bossob's avatar

You incurred a debt that you’re obligated to pay. If you find the idea repulsive, consult an attorney.

The advantage the hospital has, that a housekeeper doesn’t, is that they the full power of the ‘system’ behind it.

It’s why our health care system is so screwed up. Medical care can’t be conducted in a true, open, capitalist manner. But ‘they’ keep trying.

poisonedantidote's avatar

This is the problem with this kind of health system. Here in Spain, I get “free” health care, because I have paid in to the system in advanced. If a doctor gives me an incorrect diagnosis, I get to remind myself it was not intentional, and let it slide.

In your case, you get the incorrect diagnosis, then have salt rubbed in to the wounds so to speak, by having them demand payment for bad service.

I would not usually sue a doctor, because I think if someone is smart enough to be a doctor, then they are smart enough to be a lawyer or a banker or something that pays better, and we should probably be thankful in most cases, that the person chose to be a doctor and not something else.

However, in your situation. I think the best thing is to pay up, so that 1— you get to take the high road on it, and not get in any trouble for non payment. 2— you are going to want proof of service in court, because for you the best thing probably is to sue them for the sum of the bill, after you have paid them.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you sue in small claims court you won’t need a lawyer, and the ER will probably just pay you because it will be cheaper than showing up in court. That and you can keep terms of a settlement confidential while court records are open to anyone that wants to view them.

Judi's avatar

My cousin had a stomach ache and they sent her home with pain pills where she died. Since she was a single adult I don’t think they can go after anyone to pay the bill but I bet they’ll try. (This happened about 3 years ago. I’m not real close with that part of the family so I don’t know how it turned out. )

wundayatta's avatar

@Judi They go after the estate. The estate has to pay all outstanding bills before there are any assets to be conveyed to heirs.

Judi's avatar

Not much of one on her case. I think that’s why they didn’t bother to find out what was going on. She was over weight and she didn’t have insurance.

flutherother's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would return the bill to them with a letter pointing out that as they got it so wrong you feel reluctant to pay them. I would let them know how you suffered and that you had to be rushed to hospital as an emergency. Perhaps they will expect you to pay the bill anyway but it is worth a try.

@Shippy That is as bad as it gets. An unforgiveable mistake.

LuckyGuy's avatar

About 5 milliseconds after you were greeted, you were handed some papers (which you signed) saying you would be responsible for the bill.

josie's avatar

If you don’t pay, one of us will. So there you go.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Sure I would pay the bill, I would just tell them to take the money out of the lawsuit that I’m filing against them! lol

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Malpractice cases don’t require “up front” money. The lawyers charge 25% for no court time and 33% for court time. If you think and can prove malpractice, get a lawyer.

Yes, you owe the money and you should file for malpractice if that is what happened.

burntbonez's avatar

If you don’t pay the bill, they will eventually send it to a collection agency. If you want to contest it, you have to do that up front. I don’t think you will get anywhere. You really need to talk to a lawyer who works in malpractice and see what they think.

Mariah's avatar

This has happened to me…I was 16 so I wasn’t thinking about the bills. I’m sure we paid it though. You can’t just not pay it.

If you want to SUE, that’s another story. I’m half convinced that we should have.

dabbler's avatar

What @Tropical_Willie said. If you have a good malpractice claim you won’t have to spend a dime up front for the lawyers.

jca's avatar

I am late to this party and so I hope you are all still following. I had something similar happen to me a few years ago. I went to the ER because I couldn’t walk and was diagnosed with sprained calf muscles. I fell right in front of the ER doctor, and he took no tests at all. He sent me home with a cane and a two prescriptions, one for swelling and one for pain. He told me to take three days off work.

I fell at home the next day, and stayed home 3 days as instructed. I could not walk at all, get up off the toilet, etc. After falling in the shower on the third day and not able to get out, until I eventually got up some strength and crawled out, crawled to the bed but could not pull myself up on to the bed, I had to call a friend to leave work and come put me up on the bed. He called his sister who is an RN and told her to take me to another ER, where I was given a CAT scan and spinal tap, and diagnosed through a third test with Guillain Barre Syndrome. I was hospitalized for almost a month.

Upon discharge, I went to physical therapy. I went to physical therapy at the hospital where my first ER visit was. I sent a letter to the CEO of the hospital and cc’d the Director of the ER. My letter included my discharge papers from their ER, along with the two unfilled prescriptions from their doctor. The ER director called me, very apologetic, and told me he would “tell the girls upstairs” to hold any bills I got for copays for ER and therapy.

I think that’s a better bet for you, @Dutchess_III, to get your problem rectified. Write a letter to someone high up in the hospital.

My mom taught me long ago that when you have a problem, don’t deal with “customer service” but write a letter to someone as high up as possible in the organization.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Update. I had two bills. They forgave one. I owe $150 instead of $300.

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