Late last year I had a sharp pain in my left side and went to the emergency room at Seton. I was nauseous and wanted to use the only restroom available to the public in the ER - however a large pool of blood coated the floor and when the on-duty nurse was informed she entered the restroom, shrugged and said someone would have to be called to look after it (2 hours later the pool of blood was still there).
After 30 or so minutes, I was brought into the back area of the ER and had the nurse take my blood pressure and check my temperature. A resident quickly looked at me (no more than 2 minutes), saw I was in pain and I was placed on an IV with a pain killer and brought to a bed where I waited another 30 minutes to be wheeled in for a 2-3 minute single CT scan of my abdomen. After another 30 minutes, another young doctor came in and spoke to me for perhaps 2-3 minutes saying that I had a small kidney stone which would likely pass on its own and I should go home and rest and I was given a prescription for vicodin. The nurse spent another minute removing my IV and I left.
The total time I spent speaking with either a doctor or a nurse was, perhaps 10 minutes (maybe 15 if you consider the time it took to mention the pool of blood and nodding to the orderly who took me to the CT scan room).
During that time I was in the ER a total of 90 minutes and really received no treatment other than being told to go home and given a prescription for some pain medication.I was simply shocked when I received a copy of the bill for this 10 minutes of 'medical advice'. It was over $11,000 for Seton's ER alone and another $1,000 for actually speaking to the doctors. The CT Scan alone was in excess of $7,900 when I had an almost identical procedure performed literally across the street a few weeks later at the Heart Hospital of Austin for under $200.
I thought there must be some kind of mistake - less than 90 minutes in the ER, one quick CT scan, sent home without anything other than a standard prescription for $12,000+ and asked for a detailed invoice. I was told that even though there was a single CT scan performed (and obtained a copy of the records from the radiology department - where there was only one image), they were able to see both my kidney and my bladder (two separate body parts!) on the same scan and they were entitled to charge *twice* at $3,400 a time because the radiologist spent two or three seconds looking at two spots on the CT scan image instead of one - I kid you not, that was the explanation for how they justified charging for two separate CT scans when only a single image was obtained.
I don't hold it against hospitals or doctors to provide a fair cost for service, but I don't think I have ever received less value for money for anything in my life. I would never voluntarily use Seton's services again - $12,000+ for a dirty (as in disgusting) ER, 10 minutes of medical attention with nothing beyond 'go home and see if everything is ok in a couple of days', and charging an all ready *extremely* overinflated CT scan price twice (which at the end of the day was only glanced at by the doctor who sent me home) because there was more than one part of the body captured on the image. Oh, they also charged $19.95 for the single Tylenol tablet they handed to me on the way out - nice touch!
BEWARE BEWARE BEWARE!