RICHLAND, WA - Kadlec Regional Medical Center is facing a class action lawsuit which claims the hospital charged patients a hidden fee. Kadlec has since said the lawsuit has no merit.
Stephen Bradford is filing a class action lawsuit against Kadlec after he says he received an undisclosed emergency room charge on top of his charges for treatment.
The case would include patients treated in emergency rooms in both Richland and Kennewick over the last four years; potentially, tens of thousands of people.
Back in April 2017, Bradford visited Kadlec's emergency room. His bill came out to nearly $8,000 dollars. 30 percent of the bill was discounted afterwards because Bradford paid out of pocket. According to the lawsuit, the final total included an extra charge of $1,400 dollars; a charge that wasn't specifically disclosed before or after.
Kadlec released this statement saying on June 11th saying:
"Kadlec Regional Medical Center is proud of our longstanding practice of providing patients with all the information they need to make informed decisions about their care. Kadlec is aware of the recently filed lawsuit; we believe it is without merit. We are committed to our mission of providing safe, compassionate care, and are confident in our patient financial services."
According to the lawsuit, Bradford says after receiving the bill he requested an itemized statement. The $1,400 dollar charge was labeled as 'HC ED Level 4' with no further explanation.
Bradford says he later found out that Kadlec charges emergency room patients this fee based on 5 levels. The levels range from $300 to about $2,500 dollars. They are based on what care was provided during that particular patient's visit.
According to the suit, the fee is calculated afterwards and is based on an 'undisclosed formula.' The suit also claims the fee is a 'surcharge' and is 'unfair, deceptive and unlawful.'
Kadlec has this statement on its website saying:
"We know that healthcare can be an unexpected expense and that the cost of a healthcare service can be a deciding factor. Kadlec supports health care pricing transparency and tools that help patients and consumers evaluate what care is best for them."
The lawsuit claims that all emergency patients are required to sign a consent form, but it lacks meaningful pricing information. The emergency fee is not disclosed on Kadlec's website and Kadlec denies fees being hidden.
Beth Zborowski, spokesperson with the Washington State Hospital association says the fees are used to pay for emergency room services, making 24/7 emergency rooms possible. Zborowski also says the fee schedule is posted on Kadlec's website.
Zborowski also says the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act limits what hospitals may tell patients when they show up for an emergency visit because disclosing that information may discourage patients from getting the emergency care they need.