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Enough to send a shiver down the spine: Pneumonia victim billed for $44m by hospital
Last updated at 1:24 AM on 17th January 2012
It's enough to send a shiver down the spine of any pneumonia victim.
When unemployed New York doorman Alexis Rodriguez was handed his medical bill after three weeks in hospital, he must have felt ill.
The 28-year-old knew his Bronx-Lebanon Hospital bill would be big, but $44 million?
Shock: Alexis Rodriguez was treated at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital - but received a staggering bill
'I almost had an asthma attack,' Mr Rodriguez told the New York Daily News.
Thankfully, he was not alone. Mr Rodriguez was just one of several hundred patients to receive absurdly inflated bills because of a 'system error'.
The amount he owed was $44,776,587 for outpatient services that in reality amounted to no more than $300.
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Mr Rodriguez panicked at first because he had spent three weeks in the hospital with pneumonia in the spring and knew he had to pay part of the $40,000 cost.
But he quickly realised the terrifying invoice couldn’t be right. He called the billing company and found out he wasn’t the only one with sticker shock.
The billing firm, PHY Services, said it was a simple mistake: The subcontractor that prints the bills put the invoice number into the 'amount due' field.
The company has apparently been deluged with complaints and said it would be sending out an apology.
A recording for callers says: 'If you are calling with respect to a billing statement for services provided at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, please disregard the statement. You will be receiving a new statement shortly. '
Mr Rodriguez said that even though no harm was done to his bottom line, the sloppiness surprised him.
'It was a big error,' he said. 'I think they should have somebody look over the bills before they send them out.'
Hospital spokesman Errol Schneer said he didn’t blame Mr Rodriguez for being upset.
'We certainly share any concerns he would have,' he said.