(WSVN) - When he got something caught in his throat, he rushed to the emergency room. When the staff ran tests that he felt he didn’t need, can you refuse tests doctors and nurses want to run on you? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Matthew and Sean got married a few months ago. It was just what they had hoped for…
Matthew Bracey, expensive hospital trip: “We got married on the beach in West Palm Beach. It turned out to be really nice.”
The Bracey’s are now settling into their new life, but one night at dinner was very unsettling when food got stuck in Matthew’s throat.
Matthew Bracey: “I’m like clawing at my throat, trying to get it out. Freaking out. Starting to panic and could not get it out.”
There was nothing Sean could do to help.
Matthew Bracey: “After throwing up like four times, this has to get it out, but it won’t. I guess we need to go to the hospital.”
They drove to the emergency room. After seeing a doctor, a nurse came out to draw blood…
Matthew Bracey: “OK well this does not make sense to me. Why are you drawing blood when I have something in my throat.”
Matthew says after that, he threw up again.
Matthew Bracey: “And it was starting to feel better, I felt like I didn’t have a blockage.”
Matthew says he told the nurse he was ready to go home but she said they needed an X-ray to be sure his throat was cleared.
Matthew Bracey: “So I go get the X-ray, nothing was there. I’m like great, ‘Can I go home I’m feeling better.'”
He was then told he needed a breathing treatment to reduce the swelling in his throat. That lasted 45 minutes.
And then Matthew says he was sent to get a CT scan.
Matthew Bracey: “And I’m like, ‘What is going on?'”
After that, Matthew says a nurse said they needed a urine sample.
Matthew Bracey: “And I’m so confused. I’m just like, ‘Why do you need to test my urine?’ like I had something in my throat.”
After two hours at the emergency room, Matthew was very irritated.
Matthew Bracey: “I made enough ruckus. That a doctor comes in says, ‘Oh yeah, you are ready to go.’ Yeah, no kidding. I was good to go an hour ago!”
Then Matthew got a bill for a little over $11,000 for that short trip to the emergency room. Under his insurance policy, Matthew had to pay $2,531. That included some tests he says he never needed.
Matthew Bracey: “I ended up dislodging it by myself on my own by vomiting in the emergency room.”
Well Howard, do you have to pay for tests at an emergency room that you don’t think you need?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If you accept the tests or procedures, you have to pay for it. If you don’t want the test, you can refuse it, but the hospital can then refuse to treat you. So you may want to trust your doctors and nurses.”
We contacted Coral Gables hospital. A spokesperson wrote, “We believe the course of treatment and care delivered to Mr. Bracey was appropriate. Had Mr. Bracey chosen to leave the hospital, we would not have prevented him from doing so.”
And the spokesperson said there was no record in his medical file of Matthew requesting to leave.
Howard Finkelstein: “Were the tests that the hospital said we’re needed appropriate? The key indicator is that the insurance company didn’t dispute them. And if they thought tests were not needed, you can bet they would have fought paying for them.”
Bad news for Matthew who left the hospital healthy, but sick about a bill he thinks is way too high…
Matthew Bracey: “I have to pay my student loans. I just graduated. He’s out of a job. We have life to pay for and now I have a bill for $2,500 as my deductible? I’m dumbfounded.”
In hindsight, Matthew might not have needed many of those tests but as they say, hindsight is 20-20. And when it comes to your health, better to be careful unless you don’t have insurance or a high deductible like Matthew had and then you have to make tough decisions about tests that will put you in debt.
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