I am in court for medical bills. A large part of the suit is from Emergency Room visits. I have had 6 extremely painful kidney stone "passings", from 2000 to 2009, resulting in 2 or 3 Emergency Room visits.
The first time I had one, I had no idea what was happening to me. Thought I was dying after awhile...so ended up in the ER in the wee hours of the morning, with no health insurance. The admitting nurses all suspected a kidney stone right off the bat and I was admitted, after signing the papers. They did a abdominal CAT Scan, confirmed the stone and then, after a long wait in agony, finally gave me a shot of morphine.
Later I found out that a $2000 &up CAT SCAN is not required. A normal $40 X-ray will do just fine to confirm the presence and size of a stone.
I have endured extreme pain of kidney stones multiple times since then, because I cannot afford to pay thousands to go to the emergency room. Kidney stones are torturous pain - but I try to hold out and hope it will pass before I buckle.
The strategy has worked a couple of times. Once, the stone passed while I was being admitted to the ER before I signed the papers!... and another one passed in the car, on the way to the ER (I had my wife pull the car over and with huge snowflakes falling on my sweaty body, I happily poured it out on the side of the road right in front of the County Sherrif's office!).
Enduring four plus hours of extreme pain both of those times saved me THOUSANDS. But I shouldn't have had to suffer that pain!
All I needed was a shot of morphine - itemized at $17.50 on the bill. But the ONLY place to get that $17.50 medication, that makes the pain tolerable, is the ER - where the cost swells to thousands.
My breaking point comes at 4 to 5 hours. The unrelenting pain finally overcomes my spirit and my free will and I surrender, because I know there's a pretty nurse holding a small dose of relief, offering me this antidote, if only I sign the papers first.
The papers that say they can charge me for any damn thing they want, without telling me what it is or how much it costs.
On our last date, I asked the Judge if this was not the very definition of signing a contract under duress... he sighed and looked down, as if I had said something stupid.
The legalese in the Plaintiff complaint is worded to say that "services were rendered at my request".
I say they were NOT at my request... I requested a pain shot, that's all. Everything else was NOT medically necessary, but rather, necessary to protect the hospital -- not me.
They started wheeling me down the hall on my last visit in 2009, until I asked where we were going... they said CAT SCAN room, and I refused - I told them I would rather have a standard X-ray, and the nurse said 'OK, no problem', and that's what we did.
But if I hadn't objected to the CAT Scan, as I'm sure routinely happens every day, they would have done the most expensive test by default. They don't ask you to choose between a $40 x-ray and a $3000 CT scan - they have your signature on a paper (signed while in extreme pain and under extreme duress) that says they can sell you anything they want and YOU will pay for it.
On our first date, the Judge told me I was not qualified to diagnose myself. I told him that there was no one on this planet MORE qualified to diagnose my kidney stones than me. I am now intimate with the symptoms. I have not forgotten the previous experiences.
After all, I have indeed diagnosed myself correctly on FIVE occasions. I'm 100%, 5 for 5. No mis-diagnosis yet. But the law says I am not authorized to do that, so regardless of the FACT that I've been correct on every previous occasion.
After diagnoisis, the only other thing needed is to determine the rare possibility that it could be unusually large in size. So an X-ray is needed for that. If the stones are passable, as is common, the doctors will tell you the only thing to do is to wait for it to pass. Then, you get a pain shot and reduce the pain level to tolerable.
I've had prescribed pain pills in the past, that I was told were the strongest they could prescribe -- and they don't even touch the pain of a kidney stone... if they do I sure couldn't tell it. But the shot at the hospital does the trick.
My GP knows my history of stones. I should be able to call his hotline anytime 24 hours a day, and get a prescription that I could pick up for pain relief. 20 bucks or so. My stones usually take 6-10 hours to pass. I only need pain relief for ONE DAY to get through it with relatively no expense... but I am not allowed to have my pain relieved in this society! Not inexpensively anyway.
So the Judge has set a trial date for August 8. He told me that I will have to produce an expert witness to testify as to whether services rendered were "medically necessary", otherwise he will rule judgement against me.
Of course that means I've lost already. A commoner like me doesn't know how to defend themselves in court against professional collection lawyers. One needs to hire an lawyer, and an expert witness, boith of which cost money commoners don't have.
The amount I'm being sued for is just under $10,000.
So, I'm about at the end of my rope. Any advice about how to protect my wife and myself from garnishment or yanking funds from my bank account?
They want me to sign an agreement promising payments. I am barely keeping the mortgage paid and lights on, and can only afford aroung $30-40 a month (if I can keep up with that) - but they say that's not enough.
The agreement also always contains an admission that I admit and agree that I owe this money to them. I do not want to sign that. I'll agree to a payment arrangement but in a "NO Contest" type of way -- can I demand something like that?
Your thoughts appreciated...
and for those of you who have made it this far, here's more background about my anger over this ---
Long ago, this hospital that is suing me now, gave me Hep C. I had a surgery there -- went in clean, came out with Hep C. This was before any kidney stones... and at the time I found out, my wife and I realized we might have a lawsuit against them. But we foolishly decided not to sue.
So now, I'm sure the statute of limitations has gone. This was in 1999 when they gave me Hep C.
But now you understand a little more about why I'm angry and feel betrayed.
I don't know if anyone can help - but partially just needed to post this to vent.
Perhaps the hospital might reduce the bill if I made it clear I plan to publish this writing in as many places as I possibly can? Or will I risk more punishment for something likje that? They've been running this TV ad showing an "oh so grateful" guy who had a heart attack and he just love "blank Medical Center! I'd like to publicize the other side of that coin.