Mr. Ibrahim took his 18-month-old son to the ER with a fever of 103° on the advice of the receptionist at his doctor’s office. (Just before he arrived at the office his doctor had been called to a family emergency.) His son also had a history of upper respiratory infection so there was a great cause for concern.
“After waiting for over an hour they still hadn’t called our name and I was afraid his temperature was going up,” says Mr. Ibrahim. “I asked someone at the front desk if a doctor could possibly see my son but she told me we had to wait because four people were in front of us.”
Mr. Ibrahim says these four people were in the waiting room when they arrived and none of them had been called. After waiting another hour he realized that his son was in danger - his fever could go up and they had to wait an exorbitant amount of time. He had no choice but to leave.
“I told the front desk that ‘I don't need your services,’ and walked out,” Mr. Ibrahim explains. “I couldn’t believe that they would bill me for doing nothing. They billed my insurance company $231.00 and sent me a bill for $92.00. This doesn't seem like a normal way of doing business. If they haven't provided any service, then what is this bill for?”
While Mr. Ibrahim was in the ER waiting room, he called his wife, a registered nurse, who was working at the time. “I could hear my son crying in the background,” she says. “I got there as fast as I could and met my husband in the lobby; he was so angry.” They decided to go to the pediatric clinic, about five miles away. And the four people were still waiting when they left.
“The doctor at the clinic saw our son immediately,” says Mrs. Ibrahim. They checked his vitals and he had a throat swab. The doctor determined that our son had an infection and gave us a prescription for antibiotics. And they gave us a bill for $12.”
Audrey, from San Diego, says she went to the ER only because she was unable to see her doctor or get into the “After Hours Clinic” on Sunday night. “I signed in at the desk and asked how long I would have to wait,” Audrey says. “The receptionist told me she had no idea but there were several people in front of me who had already waited a few hours. I was in a lot of pain so I called another clinic - luckily they could see me right away. I went back to the check-in desk and told them I was leaving.”
READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS
Audrey says she didn’t see a nurse or a doctor and she was in the waiting room less than 10 minutes. Yet a claim was filed with her insurance company and she was billed $405.53! “I called the hospital and was told that charges begin in the waiting room when you check in even though I hadn’t received any treatment. I didn’t even get my vitals checked. I believe these emergency room costs amount to fraud.”
If you have emergency room bills that you believe show evidence of hospital overcharging, Attorney Barry Kramer says you have every right to dispute medical bills.