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Last January, I was very sick from a common cold that I could barely drive myself to Hospital.

I somehow pulled myself to the Hospital gates and had a checkup with the Physician there. They check me, and prescribed me drugs for cure. This was my first time visit to any hospital in US and I didn't know much about all the rules and regulations. After getting my prescriptions I was asked to get those drugs and consume them as required.

Straight out from Hospital I went to Drug store after a good drive nearby my house. When I reached the Drug store I asked for the medicines, to which the Pharmacist denied me medicines on the pretext that my Prescriptions were neither signed nor had the physicians license number.

I didn't have the strength to drive back some mile to hospital and thus had to get myself cured by some alternative means, which does not involve anything from that Hospital service.

In US, it is not legal to have drug without proper Prescription from a Physician.

Almost 10/11 months from that incident till now, I have been chased by my Hospital to pay bills for a service that I didn't get. I chased my insurance company for help, but even they denied stating that I received a service just by talking to a Doctor.

What options to I have in my disposal to take action against the Hospital and get myself hooked out from the Hospital bill?

  • You can try negotiating for a reduced payment. It's generally hard for hospitals to ensure their bills are paid, so they may or may not be amenable to a reduced bill paid with no further hassle. – David Thornley Nov 28 '18 at 19:23
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You being responsible for the service does not predicate you following through and becoming well again. Even dead people have hospital bills. You did receive a service, you just didn't get the prescription. Was this the hospitals fault? Probably, but they wouldn't be liable to refund your entire visit for that reason. Hospital phone numbers are very easy to look up, and that information would be on the prescription paper, your discharge papers, or just by googling the hospital you went to.

Think of it this way, you went to a restaurant and ordered a steak and a side. The side never arrived but you ate the steak. You can't say at the end of the meal "well I didn't get the side, so I don't owe anything". Here the steak is the doctors visit, the diagnosis, and the time spent getting seen. The side is the prescription...

It doesn't matter if you were unable to follow up and get the prescription. You obtained a service, even if that service was lacking in some detail, it does not mean that you are entitled to disregard the bill. Unfortunately you'll have to pay.


As a note, many hospitals in the US do not do paper prescriptions anymore. They are now sent electronically to pharmacies (every time I visit a doctor, one of the questions they ask me is "pharmacy XXX on road XYZ?"). This is to help curb abuse and to get accurate data transmitted to the pharmacy to reduce prescription mix-ups (doctors are notorious for bad handwriting). I'm surprised that whatever hospital you visited didn't have a similar system...

  • Thanks for your restaurant metaphor. Just to put things into perspective: Prescription is not a side dish here, it is the Main course. In this restaurant, we are only allowed to-go our orders. I just order and it is up to the professionals to use the best culinary to cook, clean dishes, pack food and give it. I only open it when I go home. In my case, I didn't see anything inside my parcel, thats where the problem is. Any effort that cook makes in his kitchen is irrelevant to me if I don't get my stuff. You don't go to restaurant to let Chef show his skills. You need to have stuffs in return. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 18:45
  • In the same way, I don't know what Physician was doing with the reports and diagnostics, until they can procure me a valid prescription. Even if I had called them, the prescription cannot be sent over the phone. Pharmacist don't give drug over phone call in US. You have to have a physical prescription, and for that I had to drive back to hospital again. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 18:47
  • Not getting cured from prescribed drug is a different story in itself, that I can understand. (By your metaphor: It is like not liking the food that I ordered). But not receiving anything in return is the case here. This is a clear negligence from hospital's side. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 18:49
  • I don't think it is though, what if your hospital visit didn't result in any prescription? If the doctor said take some over the counter drug and rest, you'd still be responsible to pay for that. The prescription isn't the product of your visit, just a side effect of it. – Ron Beyer Nov 28 '18 at 19:09
  • To your last note. I had the same impression at first that, there will be some sort of electronic soft messaging system between hospital and pharmacist that will let them know about my case. But in my case, the hospital didn't put the physicians license number too. Thats when the pharmacist refused to call the hospital. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 19:09
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Sounds like you owe the hospital. They provided you with care. You claim the prescription wasn't valid, but didn't apparently tell the hospital to send over a valid prescription. That's your fault (also, I've never heard of a prescription requiring a license number). Also, this is why you don't go to the emergency room for the common cold.

  • There were no means for me to call hospital for sending me a valid prescription. They didn’t put doctors/hospitals phone number there. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 12:55
  • Define “care”? I didn’t willingly go to emergency room. They sent me over there to rip off my pocket. – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 12:57
  • They sent someone to look at you. That's a hospital visit. You're responsible for every test and doctor examination you get regardless of what you do with the information. – pboss3010 Nov 28 '18 at 13:04
  • So, irrespective of the outcome whether I got cured or not, by sending me out without a valid prescription, there are no law that protects my stand here? It was my responsibility to make hospital realize that they made a mistake by not signing the prescription, which by all means is not a mistake! – ikis Nov 28 '18 at 13:16

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