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Hospital bill audit finds more charges

Correspondence should go to: Sara Lee Knitwear, attn: Consumer Services, P.O. Box 3013, Winston-Salem, NC 27102 or call (919) 519-4571.

I am being harassed by Northside Hospital for payment of a hospital bill that includes more than $800 for medications that I did not receive.

I wrote the billing office to explain this and requested an audit and corrected billing. I have just received the new bill. It is bigger than the last one. And now they are threatening my credit rating (which is flawless).

The medications in question involve IV's that were not ordered and which I did not get.

Allen Grennell

Response: The hospital bill covering your 23-hour stay for eye surgery totaled $7,970.70. Your insurance company, State Farm, opted to forgo an audit of the bill in lieu of a 5 percent prompt payment discount, says Northside Hospital Business Office Manager Natalie Tutunjian.

At your insistance an audit was conducted. The outcome subtracted $158.80 in undocumented overcharges and added $549.90 in documented undercharges. So as a result of the audit, your hospital bill increased by $391.10.

As for the medications in question, Ms. Tutunjian says the IV was started while you were under general anesthesia. It was needed to administer fluids because you were dehydrated. Medical documents support the charges for the IV and the medication, she says.

At your request you will be supplied with medical records to verify these charges, and if you call, Ms. Tutunjian says she will be happy to give you a discount and arrange a payment schedule.

Meanwhile, she says, State Farm has been sent the corrected billing containing "the additional charges that resulted from the audit which was requested by him."

Sorry, but sounds like this is a no-win situation. If the hospital can prove it gave you medication or used certain instruments or materials, you have to pay for them _ $89 for a knife, $56 for a sterile body drape, $498 for a breathing tube, $18 for a cotton tip applicator, according to your bill. They set the prices, and you can't bring your own.

With luck, your insurance company won't get mad and increase your premiums.

Cable companies accept

anonymous theft tips

When you suspect a person of stealing cable from a wire on a utility pole, is there a number or address to contact and will your name be kept confidential?

M.

C.

Response: The thing to do, we are told, is call the cable company that serves your area (in your case that's Paragon, 579-8600) and ask to speak to the business operations manager. You do not have to give your own name. Cable companies get these reports of cable stealing all the time, they tell us, and always check them out.

March no-name storm

has backlogged repairs

In March 1991, I ordered windows for our Florida room from J&M Aluminum. They cost more than $2,700.

The no-name storm this spring revealed that the windows were never fastened at the top or ends _ were just held in place by caulking that dried out over the summer months allowing the windows to sway back and forth.

A couple of phone calls in March brought someone from J&M out to investigate. They pulled out a handful of caulk leaving a hole open to the sky. They said they would be back but, despite numerous phone calls, nobody has shown up.

Can you help?

R.

S. Oliver

Response: Sometimes people don't understand there are other customers who also have to be taken care of, John DeCosmo of J&M Aluminum said in response to your complaint. The no-name storm put everyone in a jam and his service department was 21 days behind, he said.

Your windows were guaranteed for five years, DeCosmo said. You would just have to be patient and wait your turn, which was to come up in mid-May.

On May 22 you wrote to say that someone did come out and told you the windows may have been defective. He replaced some caulk to keep out the rain and suggested the windows should be secured with some sort of metal clips. You were waiting for J&M to come back and fix the problem. It has been three months since the no-name storm. Let us know if you are still waiting your turn.

Hanes has yet to fulfill

T-shirt mail-order offer

I sent a $4.95 check for a T-shirt offer by Hanes. The check was cashed in February but I never got the shirt.

I can't write to the box number because it would be closed by now, and I can't find a number for the company. Could you get an address for me, please?

Mrs. Teddy Chapnick

Response: The toll-free number for Hanes (a Sara Lee company) is (800) 342-7070. If you can't resolve the problem, please contact us again.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request for Action.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or on our voice mail system; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Upon request, names will not be published.

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