A frequent update of Peoria's Medical Mafia. Also see Dying in Haiti, John Carroll's Posts and Live From Haiti.
Hi Dr Carroll,Recently my local newspaper published a series called Prognosis Profits covering how hospitals prosper at patients' expense. More recently there was coverage of collection strategies entitled: Feds to hospitals: Stop abusive collections tactics.My father was seen inpatient at OSF in 2005. OSF HMO provided the supplementary insurance to his medicare policy. During his 9 day OSF inpatient stay, the primary neurologist encouraged us to get a second opinion and pushed Mayo Clinic. I asked about Rush or Northwestern because he was declining so quickly and we would not need to stay overnight on these campuses. The neurologist underscored that Mayo is only a 5 hour drive. We eventually were referred to Mayo and I actually had to push for the appointment to be bumped up due to profound neurological decline. We were seen outpatient and had to arrange a costly out-of-pocket "vacation" stay at the Kahler Inn and Suites. We were given an immediate preliminary diagnosis of CJD after a mere records review and quick physical exam of the patient yet he had just been seen in follow-up 4 days earlier at a Peoria office visit. We asked for basic supportive diagnostic tests to support Mayo's opinion. We were expected to pay in advance the sum total of projected testing on the spot, some of which could have and should have already been run in Peoria. We had to shell out $9,000 on the spot or go home. Eventually on day 3 the most expensive and supportive test to be done would be canceled by them. We were sent home yet the charges on my card remained fixed. They were reversed only after he died 5 weeks later. I complained to the referring neurologist that we had to pay in advance for that second opinion he arranged. He said he had no idea. This Peoria story paid into the Ponzi scheme of private insurance and Medicare contributions his whole, hard working life. In his hour of need, we were forced to front significant personal resources for the sum total of a bill that measured far less than we were initially charged. This rare teaching case paid it forward over and over into an abusive medical system that thrives on the very data and content obtained from reviewing such rare diseases. Mayo refused our request to autopsy. They do not like to autopsy or biopsy these cases because of risk. In 2012, is it any easier for a Central Illinois patient to get a proper rapid progressive dementia diagnosis from their own hometown teaching facility? How about necessary neuropathology to confirm? I doubt it. Had this happened to my husband instead of my father, he would have had to be buried in a pauper's grave while awaiting reimbursement for the overcharge. I greatly admire your work in Haiti but those of us who have had to fight for basic healthcare here are left with nothing in their pockets to make it better anywhere else. OSF, Mayo, and a majority of U.S. hospitals should have plenty in their pockets to give charitable care both here and abroad. We did not need charity care, only an advance on what was due a paying, dying client. What they can't payback or justify was the wasted time. The diagnosis was completely achievable and should have been delivered in Peoria.
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