Patient wrongly charged €1,500 for public hospital stays receives €750 refund

A patient who was wrongly charged €1,500 for a number of public hospital stays has received a €750 refund after bringing his case to the Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall.

He was treated in two different hospitals but the maximum he should be required to pay in a year was €750.

This is capped regardless of the number of hospitals he is treated in or his length of stay in one calendar year.

Instead he was charged €750 by both hospitals.

The case has led to the HSE now clarifying the payments on its website.

And patients have been urged also by the Ombudsman to hold on to receipts.

A report from the Ombudsman’s office said the man complained after he was charged €1,500 for a number of hospital stays. This was despite a cap of €750 on such charges at the time.

The man, who suffers from a severe kidney condition, was admitted to two different hospitals over 12 months.

He spent a total of 30 nights in hospital. At the time there was a €75 per day charge for a hospital stay. The charge is now €80 per day.

However, this charge was capped at €750 in any 12 month period regardless of how many public hospitals a patient is admitted to, or the condition that requires treatment.

“When the Ombudsman investigated the complaint he was initially told by the HSE that the 12 month cap was in respect of each hospital and, therefore, the man was correctly charged €1,500.

“However when the Ombudsman brought the relevant legislation to the HSE’s attention it agreed to refund the excess charge to the man. He spent nine nights in the first hospital and was correctly charged €675. He then had to spend 20 nights in a second hospital. The second hospital charged him the capped fee of €750, but did not take account of the €675 the man had already paid the first hospital.”

The Ombudsman pointed out there is no integrated payment system for managing hospital charges and the Ombudsman was concerned that other patients could be similarly effected in the future.

As a result, the HSE published clearer guidelines on its website, along with advice on the importance of patients keeping receipts. It has also updated information notices in hospitals and asked hospital groups to do the same. The Ombudsman will review the actions taken by the HSE in the coming months.

Patients who have queries on their hospital charge should contact the HSE by phone at: 041 6850300 or by e mail at: [email protected]

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