Itemized emergency room bill clarifies confusing charges
Q: While on vacation in Florida, I fell and hurt my back. I went to the Mease Dunedin Hospital emergency room.
I was examined by a nurse practitioner; X-rays showed I had a broken rib. I was prescribed Darvocet and sent home.
Once home I received a bill from the hospital for $798 for medical services and $557 for X-rays. Weeks later I got a bill from Coastline Emergency Physicians for medical services and an item marked "treat rib" for $374 and $144, respectively.
How can I be billed twice for "medical services," especially when only the nurse practitioner treated me?
Medicare paid most of the bills, but I'm concerned about fraud.
I'd like an itemized bill, explaining exactly what all these medical services were.
A: Beth Hardy, public relations representative for Morton Plant Mease hospitals, has seen to it that you receive an itemized bill and explanation of the services. Any patient may (and should) request this.
It's understandable that you were confused and concerned about the charges in light of the fact that you never saw a doctor.
Still, the care you receive in an emergency room is the responsibility of the ER physician, whether he or she treats you personally or not. That's why you received a bill.
Most emergency medicine doctors do not work for the hospital where they practice. That's why the bill was from a third party. In this case it was from a medical staffing group that supplies emergency physicians to emergency departments.
Many nurse practitioners and physician's assistants are also from a medical staffing group. In the case of Mease Dunedin, the nurse practitioner who saw you was an employee of the hospital, according to Hardy, thus no separate billing for her.
The charges for your X-rays were twofold: The hospital charges for taking them and the radiologist charges for reading them.
The rest of the charges were related to the hospital and emergency care you received.
Newspaper to arrive daily at last
Q: I signed up for a yearly subscription to the St. Petersburg Times while visiting the Citrus County Fair in March.
I was going through some paperwork in May, found the receipt and realized I hadn't been receiving the paper. I called and delivery began the next day.
Since then I've received two bills and a past due notice. Each time I phoned I was assured that the matter would be resolved and I'd get a call back. It wasn't and I didn't.
On June 23, my delivery stopped. I spoke with a supervisor at the call center, and she promised to call back and let me know what was happening.
I've never heard a thing, and I'm still not getting the paper.
A: I apologize for the poor service you've received. Your account has been corrected, delivery re-established and your next renewal date set for May 2009.