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Emergency Room Charges a Bitter Pill for Man Who Lost Thumb

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Henderson, NVWhen Bo Hash suffered an injury to his hand, his first stop was to the Rose de Lima Campus of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. The rodeo enthusiast had been indulging his passion when a rope tightly wound around his thumb further constricted and lopped off his thumb. The quick-thinking insurance agent put his wayward thumb on ice and brought it with him to the hospital. In the end, he lost his thumb. But worse, in Hash’s view, were the emergency room charges that totaled nearly $5,000.

According to the Las Vegas Sun (5/28/13), Hash was given three X-rays, a tetanus shot and pain medication. Total emergency room cost: $4,987.

Here’s how the costs break down, according to the original billing statement from the hospital. Three X-rays were billed for $732 in total. The tetanus shot came in at $317. The remaining $2,578 was identified as an “Emergency Room Level 5” admissions charge.

What bothered Hash the most in his disputed medical bill situation is that the hospital did not have the facilities to reattach his thumb, even though he expressly asked the hospital before he even arrived if they had the capacity for the intricate surgery required for a digit reattachment. It was only after he was administered cursory treatment - and billed nearly $5,000 - that he was referred to another hospital.

In the end, his thumb could not be saved. Hash’s health insurance provider has negotiated with the hospital to reduce the emergency room bill by half, and Hash is thinking of further pursuing his er bill in small claims court.

However, the story illustrates a much wider problem involving hospital overcharging. This past March, TIME Magazine (3/4/13) published an extensive story on the current state of the health care industry, including mushrooming emergency room costs. Various examples were given, including an invoice that carried a charge of $1.50 for a single dose of Tylenol. Other life-saving drugs were found to have been marked up by upwards of 400 percent.

According to the TIME report, one patient reported to a private, not-for-profit hospital in Connecticut for treatment of pain and discomfort that turned out to be heartburn. The emergency room bills totaled $21,000.

As for his own er charges, Hash is not backing down. “When all this stuff happened, I went down and met their patient advocate,” he told the Las Vegas Sun. “I said, ‘Hey, all this stuff is wrong. I’ll pay you for the X-ray and pain shot. I’m not paying you for the bandage of my hand, the treatment of my hand - none of the things you said you did and level of trauma you charged me,’” Hash said in published comments in the Las Vegas Sun. “To me, that’s why our insurance charges are so out of hand.”

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READER COMMENTS

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We couldn't find the St. Rose hospital above as we got lost so a family member drove me to the Downtown Las Vegas "welfare" hospital (can't recall name) for "heartburn." I was kept there for MANY hours while they did all sorts of tests & x-rays & refused to even give me an aspirin for pain!!! They claimed "at my age" (approx. 60 yrs. old at the time) it could be something more serious like a stroke or heart attack! After several hours, I finally left the hospital on my own accord. They made me sign papers that I was checking out against their orders & risking "death" to scare me. I later got an outrageous bill for several thousand dollars which I refused to pay & has now affected my credit rating. This community hospital preys on low income disabled and retired medicare patients insurance.

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