SW Airline makes medical decision and takes passengers' tickets

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Aug 29, 2015
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#21
I’m sorry you experienced this, but the airline made the right call in requiring you to be checked out before continuing onto a connecting flight. They needed to be sure it was safe to fly.

We’ve been there. Not between flights, but coming off a cruise ship, the Dr required me to agree to escort my hubby to the ER to be checked out before our flight home. He stated that either I made arrangements or he would. I was able to reserve a rental car and find an ER in network from my cell phone online. The bill for that, before insurance adjustments was over $30K, and we did hit our $3000 deductible in the ER. Luckily, I had travel insurance to cover it.

If you didn’t purchase travel insurance, I would recommend checking the credit card you used to purchase your tickets to see if you have some coverage. Otherwise, it is simply part of your deductible. I’m glad you are Ok.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#24
Certainly an unpleasant and expensive ordeal. The airlines are concerned about diversions, infectious diseases, and liability. It is worse when there are 2 sick people on the flight. And I would not call it ageism -- statistically the young and the older are the ones that die of the flu.

It is very hard to second guess the treatment later and from afar with limited information.

Is there anyway that you can negotiate with the service providers to reduce the bill?

What actually makes me the most angry is what a mess the health insurance situation is in this country but I will not digress.
Ah yes, Americans without adequate health care ... a national tragedy, I so agree, Christina. You bring up a very good point about negotiating with the providers. I believe there avenues open to people without insurance coverage ... directly from those providers. Worth a try.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#25
In hindsight, maybe you could have insisted on taking a cab to an urgent care clinic near Love Field to get clearance instead of the hospital. They can't force you to go to the hospital against your will. Please don't take this as criticism. I'm sure they pushed you hard to go to the ER.
Just want to point out that an urgent care clinic will NOT be able to clear a passenger if there is ANY question about a cardiac situation. The urgent care, if following cardiac protocol will send the patient to the emergency department.
 
Likes: Nancy
Dec 19, 2014
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#26
My final thoughts...

To the OP:
You are liable for the bill.
If you believe that the EMTs committed malpractice, then you need to obtain the medical records, and have then reviewed by an appropriate expert.
I get that you have spoken a heart doctor and an EMT, and they have told you that a misdiagnosis was made. But, they weren't there and likely have NOT reviewed the medical records, so their opinion is irrelevant. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback. If you are so inclined, then obtain the records and have them review them. Are they willing to testify in a court of law that the EMTs committed malpractice?
If so, then you need to speak to an attorney. A demand letter may get the bill to be waived.

At the end of the day, the OP is a victim of our broken medical AND LEGAL system. More importantly, no one in this forum was there, and a neutral 3rd party observer may have a different perspective of the events.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#27
My final thoughts...

To the OP:
You are liable for the bill.
If you believe that the EMTs committed malpractice, then you need to obtain the medical records, and have then reviewed by an appropriate expert.
I get that you have spoken a heart doctor and an EMT, and they have told you that a misdiagnosis was made. But, they weren't there and likely have NOT reviewed the medical records, so their opinion is irrelevant. It is easy to be an armchair quarterback. If you are so inclined, then obtain the records and have them review them. Are they willing to testify in a court of law that the EMTs committed malpractice?
If so, then you need to speak to an attorney. A demand letter may get the bill to be waived.

At the end of the day, the OP is a victim of our broken medical AND LEGAL system. More importantly, no one in this forum was there, and a neutral 3rd party observer may have a different perspective of the events.
Depending on the state (and Texas is probably one), to file suit against paramedics you need to have an expert certify that the paramedics acted in a "grossly negligent" fashion, meaning with malice. A very high bar not achievable in a case like this.
Plus, with the damages measured in the low thousands, it is not worth the time of an attorney on a contingency fee to even investigate this claim. No medical malpractice attorney will even discuss a case like this, much less send it out for expert review.
 
Apr 1, 2018
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#28
Lesson for the next time, for all of us: If you are being asked to get a doctor's approval for a subsequent flight AND you are sure that you are fine, note that the bill for that approval may be in the thousands, and see if instead you can just book a last minute fare on another airline for less than $3,000. For me it is a financial decision and yes, I believe that the airline overreacted and yes I don't believe the passenger has any recourse.
 
Feb 28, 2018
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#29
I agree with RonaldMax as to his misdiagnosis at the airport medical facility, and suspect that there was no physician there to evaluate him . I am an experienced physician, former USAF Flight Surgeon, and can report that in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a very wide disparity in the competence and ability of the many emergency ambulance workers. Some are very skilled, as is usually portrayed on most of the TV Medical programs ( "E.R.", "The Resident", etc.) but many are not. Many of the less able ambulance workers do NOT take vital signs ( pulse, temperature, respiration,) and simply make a visual evaluation. Almost all of the companies are economically motivated: if an ambulance is called and goes to a location, it does NOT get paid if the potential patient refuses their services ( he didn't call them). Workers are not retained if there is an unacceptable number of calls when the presumed person in need says "No." Frequently, businesses ( e.g., restaurants, bars) play safe and call an ambulance when it appears a client is ill and often the the client is taken the ER needlessly. Each week, people are transported by ambulance from SF Bay area airports to nearby Emergency Rooms and found to have no significant problem that would be affected by air travel. In several European airports, as well as in Buenos Aires, there are emergency clinics with physicians ( hours vary) that immediately evaluate people with possible medical problems as well as provide care for the airport workers. Do not assume that all ambulance care workers are certified and supervised: many are not, and have only rudimentary training.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#30
Lesson for the next time, for all of us: If you are being asked to get a doctor's approval for a subsequent flight AND you are sure that you are fine, note that the bill for that approval may be in the thousands, and see if instead you can just book a last minute fare on another airline for less than $3,000. For me it is a financial decision and yes, I believe that the airline overreacted and yes I don't believe the passenger has any recourse.
This is fantastic advice, Yul. If you think you're fine, tell them all thanks and walk away, to fly to your destination on a different airline. This will save you a great deal of grief and annoyance. But you better know that you're fine before following this advice.
 
Mar 23, 2015
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#31
Lesson for the next time, for all of us: If you are being asked to get a doctor's approval for a subsequent flight AND you are sure that you are fine, note that the bill for that approval may be in the thousands, and see if instead you can just book a last minute fare on another airline for less than $3,000. For me it is a financial decision and yes, I believe that the airline overreacted and yes I don't believe the passenger has any recourse.
I, for one, would never anticipate that 1) a visit to an ER for a potential heart attack or whatever, would cost more than $3k and 2) that insurance wouldn't cover it! Although I think in the OP's case, it was that they wouldn't cover it *yet* as he hadn't met his deductible? (Ouch, that seems high?) As a military (retired) dependent I'm not terribly familiar with civilan healthcare plans but that seems ridiculous! I know with ours, emergency care is 100% covered. Period. Which is useful because my son is a walking disaster and seems to makit it his goal to visit ERs in every city and state he visits..
 
Apr 1, 2018
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#32
I, for one, would never anticipate that 1) a visit to an ER for a potential heart attack or whatever, would cost more than $3k and 2) that insurance wouldn't cover it! Although I think in the OP's case, it was that they wouldn't cover it *yet* as he hadn't met his deductible? (Ouch, that seems high?) As a military (retired) dependent I'm not terribly familiar with civilan healthcare plans but that seems ridiculous! I know with ours, emergency care is 100% covered. Period. Which is useful because my son is a walking disaster and seems to makit it his goal to visit ERs in every city and state he visits..
I have really good healthcare coverage with an HMO, and before I can get emergency healthcare outside of their HMO system, assuming I'm not out cold, I need to get approval. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't cover this and $3,000 for the ambulance, ER visit, tests, etc is not that high compared to some bills I've seen. I'm sure there are regional differences in prices, though.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#33
I, for one, would never anticipate that 1) a visit to an ER for a potential heart attack or whatever, would cost more than $3k and 2) that insurance wouldn't cover it! Although I think in the OP's case, it was that they wouldn't cover it *yet* as he hadn't met his deductible? (Ouch, that seems high?) As a military (retired) dependent I'm not terribly familiar with civilian healthcare plans but that seems ridiculous! I know with ours, emergency care is 100% covered. Period. Which is useful because my son is a walking disaster and seems to make it his goal to visit ERs in every city and state he visits.
Many civilian healthcare insurance policies now have $3-6000/year deductibles. The charge for the ambulance and Emergency department was actually on the lower side of the spectrum.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#34
This is fantastic advice, Yul. If you think you're fine, tell them all thanks and walk away, to fly to your destination on a different airline. This will save you a great deal of grief and annoyance. But you better know that you're fine before following this advice.
And if you are wrong and get on the next fight that then needs to be diverted for an in-flight medical emergency, you will have an astronomical bill not covered by any insurance, and may even be subject to criminal charges.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,546
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Maui Hawaii
#35
I agree with RonaldMax as to his misdiagnosis at the airport medical facility, and suspect that there was no physician there to evaluate him . I am an experienced physician, former USAF Flight Surgeon, and can report that in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a very wide disparity in the competence and ability of the many emergency ambulance workers. Some are very skilled, as is usually portrayed on most of the TV Medical programs ( "E.R.", "The Resident", etc.) but many are not. Many of the less able ambulance workers do NOT take vital signs ( pulse, temperature, respiration,) and simply make a visual evaluation. Almost all of the companies are economically motivated: if an ambulance is called and goes to a location, it does NOT get paid if the potential patient refuses their services ( he didn't call them). Workers are not retained if there is an unacceptable number of calls when the presumed person in need says "No." Frequently, businesses ( e.g., restaurants, bars) play safe and call an ambulance when it appears a client is ill and often the the client is taken the ER needlessly. Each week, people are transported by ambulance from SF Bay area airports to nearby Emergency Rooms and found to have no significant problem that would be affected by air travel. In several European airports, as well as in Buenos Aires, there are emergency clinics with physicians ( hours vary) that immediately evaluate people with possible medical problems as well as provide care for the airport workers. Do not assume that all ambulance care workers are certified and supervised: many are not, and have only rudimentary training.
You CAN assume that "all ambulance workers" that respond to the Dallas airport are licensed, and "certified and supervised". The OP was seen by a paramedic-staffed unit (as evidenced by the use of monitoring equipment). The decision of the airplane cabin staff to call for a paramedic was entirely appropriate. The fact that after hospital evaluation the OP was released does not reverse or invalidate the initial correct decision making. The alternative of allowing an ill person to board their next flight without medical attention would have been a serious error.
 
Last edited:
Jan 6, 2015
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#36
Regarding the $3,000 you have been billed I have a thought based upon personal experience. If you contact their billing department they "may" be willing to accept the "contracted" amount as if you were insured. Sometimes that is a significant reduction . . .
 
Likes: Patina

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#37
$3,000 seems to be an awfully round number for an ER visit. Is this the billed cost or your cost? My daughter has a chronic illness and I have spent more than my fair share of nights in an ER. I have never seen an ER bill this low... Emergency Care is not cheap its one of the reasons that, at least locally, ERs seem to pop up all over the place.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#38
$3,000 seems to be an awfully round number for an ER visit. Is this the billed cost or your cost? My daughter has a chronic illness and I have spent more than my fair share of nights in an ER. I have never seen an ER bill this low... Emergency Care is not cheap its one of the reasons that, at least locally, ERs seem to pop up all over the place.
Perhaps you meant "high". Guessing the $3,000 is an approximation, and is because of the airport transit (to/from) via ambulance . . .
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#39
@VoR61 Nope I meant low... Billed cost on my daughter's average visit after tests etc is in the $6000 - 8000 range. My cost is $0 due to our insurance after we meet the annual.

Edit: That's before the insurance company gets their drastic write downs...
 
Likes: ADM
Dec 19, 2014
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#40
I am an experienced physician, former USAF Flight Surgeon, and can report that in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a very wide disparity in the competence and ability of the many emergency ambulance workers.
Sorry Stan, but if you are an experienced physician, then you should know better than to claim misdiagnosis without a review of the medical record. You weren't there. After all, the only account that you have is what the OP wrote, and patient's are "never" wrong.