"Bad experience at Box Hill Hospital Emergency Department and charges for same."

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as other),

We attended Box Hill Hospital Emergency Department recently.  After waiting for a considerable number of hours my wife was finally seen by a doctor. I have been informed that as my wife has not yet been issued with access to my Medicare number, we had to pay a fee of $440. We were at the hospital many, many hours and eventually my wife was attended to. At no time was I informed that there would be any additional charges for the doctor to actually see her. I was told the fee was $440 and understood this to mean this charge was for being seen by a doctor and treated in the Emergency Department. Had I been notified there would be extra charges, over and above the initial $440, I would have had to decline any more medical assistance, as my ability to pay this extra charge would have been out of the question. Because we had been at the hospital for so many hours, waiting to be seen, I realised that the medical staff must have thought my wife’s health (and that of our unborn child ) could not have been at risk and her condition was obviously not life threatening. Then to add insult to injury, the following day I was telephoned and notified by the hospital that my wife had been given an incorrect injection during her visit to the Emergency Department and there was a chance there could be major medical consequences.
I was advised by the hospital that my wife had to attend the hospital (once again ) for a further blood test.  This revelation caused very, very substantial stress to us. My wife was distraught, she felt that after waiting for so long to actually be seen at the hospital and then be given the wrong treatment, she is still extremely worried something could be wrong with our unborn child. To be advised – on the phone, that the hospital had not given my wife the correct treatment was stressful enough, without the added stress of being told there could be very real medical problems resulting from this. I believe that the manner in which we were advised of this extremely negligent error by the medical staff warrants investigation. This ‘ horror ‘ visit to the hospital has left my wife with an extremely real fear of being wrongly diagnosed if she ever returns to Box Hill Hospital again. This negligence by the medical staff has also been affecting my wife’s health since then and she has not been well. She is not sleeping well and is stressed continuously. This has me quite concerned over the health of both my wife and our unborn child. However, even though my wife is not well, she is far too frightened to go back to the Hospital. I have filled out the necessary paperwork and have applied for my wife to be added to my Medicare Card, however there is a $6,800 fee for this. Now being issued with such a huge account from the hospital (for which I definitely was not advised would occur and also definitely did not agree to), I am finding I am unable to afford either. Trying to manage to support my extremely stressed and ill wife, myself and our children is difficult enough, without the added stress of “surprise“ charges from the hospital and albeit incorrect treatment for this said visit. The initial invoice I received stated that this $440 fee was for ‘Facility Fee and Treatment in the Emergency Department‘.  I do not understand why there has been a further charge of $1,000 and also do not understand why we were not informed of this, prior to the consultation? If the charge of $440 was for, as stated on the Invoice - Facility Fee and Treatment in the Emergency Department, then it is my understanding that I have paid for the Facility Fee ( i.e. Emergency Department) and any treatment she received there at the time.

I also feel that to actually be charged for having to wait for so long for attention and then being incorrectly treated at the hospital is quite offensive.

I would like to request that the hospital reconsider charging the extra $1,000 for this visit, other than the initial $440 which was paid and to invalidate any other charges other than this $440. My wife’s health and mental state are very fragile at the moment and I do not need any extra stress placed on her during her pregnancy. She has been so distraught over this episode, she wanted me to seek legal advice. So far I have refrained from doing this, because I feel it is more important that my wife’s health and stress on the family must be sorted out promptly.

As you can envisage, such a situation and incorrect treatment would definitely cause extreme stress to a patient (especially a pregnant woman). If my wife’s records are checked, you will find we returned to the hospital for a further blood test, to try to rectify any problems which may have arisen from the negligent treatment administered by the medical staff at the Hospital.

Responses

Response from Alan Lilly, Chief Executive, Eastern Health

picture of Alan Lilly

Dear Fees paid,

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion. I have also received an identical letter in the mail today. I am very sorry that you have experienced our service in this way as this is not in keeping with the way that we like to do things in Eastern Health.

I am also very concerned to read about your wife’s experience at Box Hill Hospital and the matters you encountered with regard to both her care and the follow-up issue of the billing for services rendered. I can understand that you have been quite concerned too.

First and foremost, I would like to arrange an investigation into the care your wife experienced and following conclusion of that process, we will review the matter of the charges as a separate and secondary issue. In the meantime, you need not pay any invoices and I will ensure that a note is made on your account to this effect.

I have sent you a letter today which includes details of the process of the investigation and other contact details too.

Once again, I am very sorry that we have added to your burden at this time and you can be reassured that we take your feedback seriously. We will get back to you as soon as we possibly can.

In the meantime, if you have any further queries, please do let me know.

Kind regards, Alan Lilly.

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