The Troubleshooters struck a nerve when we profiled a man’s cost of a trip to the emergency room. We heard from a number of viewers outraged over their own experiences.
Now, we have investigated the story of an East Hartford mother and daughter and their $1200 finger.
“For the work that they did, the amount of money was outrageous!” said Susan Skowronek.
For Susan, her $1200 dollar emergency room bill from Windham hospital is hard to believe. The big bill started with a simple injury, a cut on her daughter’s finger.
Because the cut would not stop bleeding, daughter Mara Skorwonek went to the infirmary at The University of Connecticut, where she is a student. There, she said they urged her to go to the emergency room. She chose the ER at Wyndham hospital and once seen, she asked the physician for stitches.
“He told me no, were just going to do the bandages with the glue, and then we will send you out,” said Mara.
But she recalls the bandage and glue didn’t hold up.
“When I woke up the next morning, I noticed that it was starting to come apart,” said Mara. “It was falling apart and it did start bleeding again.”
She went back to the UCONN infirmary where they re-bandaged the cut and put a splint on it for free, as is the case with most college campus clinics.
Two months later, Susan got two bills from Wyndham hospital totaling more than $1200.
“I thought immediately that it was outrageous!”
Susan disputed the charges right away, and wondered how in her opinion, seemingly menial medical care could cost so much?
Wyndham denied her claim dispute and sent Troubleshooters a statement saying:
“At Windham Hospital, providers use evidence-based medical protocols to determine the most appropriate treatment. While there are many variables in patient care-- in general, standard best practice for certain finger lacerations include the placement of steri strips with medical adhesive applied over them to help keep them in place. Windham Hospital takes patient safety and satisfaction seriously and promptly looks into all complaints and concerns.”
Although Physician Assistant Pari Patel, with ASAP Urgent Care didn’t treat Mara, we asked for his take on properly treating a cut.
“Wherever the cut is, you try and open it up gently, if by opening it up, it starts bleeding, then chances are it need suturing,” said Patel.
The seemingly high cost to glue Mara’s finger, and add a steri strip to the cut is what CEO of ASAP Urgent Care Traver Hutchins said you can expect to pay when you go to the ER.
“They are staffed around the clock with the most expensive and experienced physicians and facilities,” explained Hutchins. “To be ready on a moment’s notice 24-7 that costs a great deal of money.”
He said it’s the patients who absorb the overhead costs.
We showed Hutchins the picture of Mara’s treated finger, and asked for a price estimate of getting the same treatment at ASAP Urgent care.
“Somewhere between $125 and $175 dollars,” Hutchins estimated.
Susan explained her insurance has covered some of her $1200 bill, but she is still getting hit hard.
“The co-pay for us was for the emergency room was $799.00,” said Susan.
Which is why she continues her fight.
“It really shouldn’t cost that much for the work that they did.”
Susan’s bill has since been sent to a collection agency, and she said she is still fighting it.