Unnecessary tests leave patient confused and wanting better transparency
By Consumers Union on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
When it comes to healthcare, consumers in the U.S. have come to expect high prices and hospital bills that are difficult to decipher. In some cases, people are even running into unnecessary tests or procedures.
Scarlett from Nevada experienced one of these unnecessary tests coupled with high prices in 2011. “I was bitten by a tick and was in a lot of pain so I decided to go to the emergency room. When I arrived, the first thing the medical person insisted on was a pregnancy test,” she said. At 42 years old with an IUD, Scarlett felt the test was not needed and declined, but the medical personnel insisted.
The pregnancy test ended up yielding no results because Scarlett had been drinking water all day to stay hydrated – the test could not be completed because her urine was too diluted. As the pregnancy test had just proved that Scarlett was well hydrated, she was confused when the ER staff insisted on giving her saline, which is typically used to rehydrate patients. But because she was tired and in pain, Scarlett did not argue.
When it was all said and done, Scarlett said she was charged “about $200 for a bag of saline, over $240 for the venipuncture to give [her] the saline, and $18 for three ibuprofen.” The only charge she could dispute was the bill for the pregnancy test. “I was in no position to advocate for myself [in the ER] because I was exhausted and felt sick,” Scarlett said. She feels that people need to know how much medical treatment costs and options need to be available to consumers, especially when they are the most vulnerable.