Consumer Sued for $40,000 in Unpaid Medical Bills From a Decade-Old Hospital Stay

By Consumers for Quality Care, on August 17, 2022

Consumer Sued for $40,000 in Unpaid Medical Bills From a Decade-Old Hospital Stay

A woman who thought she had resolved her medical debt from a stay in the ICU a decade ago was surprised to learn last year she owed $40,000 in unpaid medical bills, according to WBTV

Patricia Durham, 73, who lives off her $1,200 social security check, was diagnosed with kidney failure a decade ago and spent several days in the ICU. She was not expected to make a recovery, but she did. After leaving the hospital, Durham sought financial assistance from a social service organization to help pay off the debt, and until recently, thought her balance was taken care of.

That was until last year when she was sued for over $40,000 in unpaid medical bills. “I was shocked because I felt like, they served me this now? When all of these years I thought it was taken care of,” Durham said in an interview.

Atrium Health, who originally sued Durham in 2011 over the bills, refiled the suit in 2021. Durham is concerned that that the hospital system will now attempt to place a lien on her home. She also said that at no time did Atrium inform her of charity care to help pay off her medical bills, which is the hospital’s responsibility to provide to consumers.

These predatory medical debt collection tactics are especially troubling, particularly among vulnerable populations. CQC urges providers and lawmakers across the nation to work together to put an end to all predatory hospital collection practices.