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Do I have any legal recourse against hospital billing procedures performed without permission?

Las Vegas, NV |

A couple of years ago I was at a hospital in Vegas for severe stomach pains. After 3 hours, they said I had no major issues and sent me home. During the visit they said they were doing 1 MRI with contrast, I received a bill soon after for $9000+ (as I had no insurance). I made payments for a while and then asked for a detail of my bill. I found out they performed 2 MRIs without telling me and stating they were only doing one. They charged $3600 for a normally $500 procedure. I complained to the NV board of health but the hospital won't accept any responsibility. Now it is on my credit as a collection. I am not sure if legal assistance would encourage resolution or if they have liability for misrepresentation. Otherwise bankruptcy might be an option since debt is high.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. You can be liable for the "fair market value" of procedures performed out of necessity--such as if you are unconscious and unable to consent. When you checked in you likely signed agreement to their "standard" (and unreasonable) list prices.

    $9,000 can be enough of a hole for some people that digging out would never be possible--my rough rule of thumb is that half a year's income in debt is a lost cause, and time for most people to start over in chapter 7.

    It may also be possible to negotiate the bill downwards, especially if you are able to make a significant lump sum cash payment.

    It is definitely worth consulting with an attorney on this. My assistant can usually get you in within a day or two if you call.

  2. You can dispute any debt, on your credit report or as a defense in Court. Accusations like "misrepresentations" won't get you anywhere, and the reality is that people who have to go to the ER (presumably) come out with big bills, especially when there is no insurance. It isn't like a normal referral from a doctor, when tests can be considered in advance. I can also say from personal experience that sometimes it takes more than one trip in the MRI machine. We don't know what was or was not necessary that day, but it should have been addressed long ago.

  3. I doubt you would get very far with this kind of issue, but if in conjunction with other debts, you feel that bankruptcy may be an option for you, I strongly recommend you consult with a bankruptcy attorney in your area. I am sure that either Mr. Hawkins or another frequent contributor to this forum, Dorothy Bunce, who is also in Las Vegas, could ably assist you.

    DISCLAIMER: This message is intended as a general discussion of legal issues and not as a statement of fact, legal advice or a legal opinion. No attorney-client relationship is created by this message. Do not act or rely upon law-related information in this communication without seeking the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in the relevant area. I am a Federally Designated Debt Relief Agency under the United States Bankruptcy Code. I proudly help people in financial need file bankruptcy cases. IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication (or in any attachment).

  4. If you are already considering bankruptcy for other debt issues, then it may not be worth your while to bother with this debt any more as disputing this will be an uphill battle. If this is in fact your only debt, whether or not you should try to settle it out or file bk is really dependent on your financial circumstances. If you are unemployed or have no income, bk is going to be the easy way to resolve this. The best advice would be to consult in person with a bankruptcy attorney to explore all of your circumstances and options. Good luck.

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