Dear Nurse Katz,
My doctor recently ordered an extra X-ray of my hip due to what he thought might be a hairline fracture. Unfortunately, he asked me to come in for another X-ray since the image was not clear. I was pleased to learn that it was not fracture and just some very bad bruising, but not pleased to get a bill for the repeat X-ray. Can I get charged for this?
Susan, this happens more than many people know, and I find the busier the facility, and the more the outsourcing, the less "quality control" on services like reading X-rays. If an X-ray was performed more than once due to an error with the initial X-ray such as a wrong body part, misreading of the X-ray or clarity of the film, you should not be billed for a mistake made by the radiology technician or the physician. Be sure to bring this up with the billing department and maybe even the risk manager. Also, watch out for what is known as "ghosting." This is when the radiologist "rubber-stamps" the reading of your X-ray by a technician without giving it more than a glance. Unfortunately, electronic "signatures" on radiology reports have made this type of practice easy to do since medical records are now digitized in most facilities. This type of forging of the radiologist's signature has made this practice more common because it is easy and not as detectible, saving time and money for the facility and the doctor.
For more ways to avoid paying extra on your medical bill or that "medical ghost," be sure to get your copy of the book "Healthcare Made Easy."