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Woman Charged $1,133 To Clip Toenail

post #1 of 2
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SEATTLE -- A lawsuit spawned by a $1,133 bill to clip a toenail and run some tests at a hospital has been certified as a class action.

The ruling this week in King County Superior Court could raise the stakes by millions of dollars in a consumer protection case brought by Lori Mill against Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Mill is challenging a $418 fee included in the bill for "miscellaneous hospital charges" because she had the work done at Virginia Mason's downtown complex rather than at one of the medical center's satellite clinics.

Virginia Mason officials say the downtown operation is authorized by Medicare to charge higher fees because it is licensed as a hospital, and they maintain that such charges are a standard industry practice.

Extending the lawsuit to cover other Virginia Mason patients who have been billed for such fees, Judge Gregory P. Canova said the main question is whether those charges were properly disclosed or were unfair or deceptive.

Trial is set for July 3. If Virginia Mason loses, the state Consumer Protection Act allows triple damages of up to $10,000 per patient who provides documentation of such a billing. The number of patients potentially affected was not immediately available early Friday.

Mill's lawyer, John Phillips, has obtained internal e-mail showing Virginia Mason doctors and staff have complained about the charges, court filings show.

One unidentified doctor who had a procedure on his own toe at the downtown complex e-mailed Virginia Mason chief executive Dr. Gary Kaplan last year after being billed $1,200, including a facilities charge of $1,138.

"I call it obscene," the doctor fumed. "There has to be some sense of appropriateness/fairness/reasonableness to our charges."

Another, Allan Kayne, a dermatologist, complained after one of his patients was billed for $1,361, including a $754 facilities fee.

"These charges are not only excessive but an embarrassment to me and the medical center," Kayne wrote.
post #2 of 2
Hmmm, I was born at that hospital....I wonder what it cost my parents?

Really though, the charges are silly, how can you charge more just because of a technicality like type of medical facility?
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