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She didn't get shoulder surgery but was billed anyway and sent to collections

Bill of the Month: Medical billing mystery
Bill of the Month: Woman mistakenly charged for shoulder surgery she never had 05:48

Grace Elizabeth Elliott was surprised when she got a $1,100 surgery bill from a hospital in Venice, Florida.  

The California resident said she initially thought it was a scam but after calling the hospital discovered it was a result of a clerical error. 

She was charged for a hospital visit by 81-year-old Grace A. Elliott who had done a shoulder replacement and rehabilitation services at Venice Regional Medical Center, later renamed ShorePoint Health Venice in 2021. 

Grace E. Elliott's information was still in the hospital's database from a 2013 stay for a kidney infection while she was visiting family. 

But despite the hospital admitting the error, Medical Data Systems, a debt collection agency, kept going after Grace E. for the debt.

Worried that this was going to impact her credit score, Grace E. appealed the bill — only to be denied. She tried again and was denied for a second time. 

"The debt collector told me, 'We can't speak to you about this account. You need to talk to the hospital.' And the hospital told me. 'Well, we fixed everything,'" Grace E. said. 

The debt collector kept billing the younger Grace Elliott and even sent her the older patient's medical records. 

Frustrated, Grace E. used that information to locate the original patient and inform her of what was happening. 

"I wanted to let her know about all of this so that she could, No. 1, know that her personal information was out there," she said. 
After months of frustration, Grace E. asked Kaiser Health News to investigate and soon received a written apology from the hospital.  

In a statement, ShorePoint Health told CBS News that "the hospital clearly made a mistake here. The error has been corrected and steps have been taken to ensure it will not happen again." 

Medical Data declines to comment about the case but told Kasier Health News that it "follows all state and federal rules and regulations."

While Grace E. said the collection letters have stopped, she said that the entire ordeal was a stressful, drawn-out experience. 

"We're coming on a year later and that's it's wasted a lot of my time. This could have been fixed so easily," she said.  

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