Can you dispute medical charges if the doctor did nothing?

I’m asking this for a friend, who’s 7 year old daughter has an ongoing medical problem* that has not yet been diagnosed by her doctors. She’s been to at least three different doctors, no one can figure out what’s going on. Today, she went to a new doctor. They have insurance, but there are co-pays and percentages and it’s adding up quickly. She says this doc did nothing for her daughter, spent less than 10 minutes with them, and was a complete waste of money. Do they have any recourse in that situation?

*The kid has a heart murmur, kidney stones, seems to be sensitive to wheat and dairy, vomits a lot, and is frequently feverish, so if anyone has any suggestions about what’s going on there I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear them.

You can just not pay. You can call the doctor’s billing office and say you are not paying because the doc did nothing.

Most likely they will turn it over to collection eventually. And you can continue to ignore it.

I doubt it. Among the paperwork you sign when you see a new doctor is usually a form agreeing that you (or your insurance) will pay the fee. It generally does not include a “satisfaction guaranteed or you pay nothing” clause. If they literally did nothing, i.e. did not see and examine the patient, did not order tests, etc, that would be a different story.

And yes, as Omar Little said, of course you can not pay it, just like any other bill, although it probably wouldn’t be good for your credit score.

IANAD but Celiac Disease?

My Dad had a dislocated finger and the Dr. only gave a half hearted attempt at fixing it before giving up and leaving the room. While the nurse finally got everything back in place, the $400 bill for the Dr.'s 2 minutes struck a nerve. Several phone calls and a couple letters later, the bill was reduced significantly.

Heart murmur should be pretty easy to figure out - has she been referred to a pediatric cardiologist yet?

Can he be reported to the AMA for unethical behavior?

Munchausen by proxy?

Was the new doctor a referral? That might explain why it appeared that the doctor did nothing.
Perhaps he was involved to simply rule out something or the other.

Did your friend change doctors? If that’s the case, and this was the first patient contact with the MD one would think there would have been history taken and at least a physical exam.

IANAMD but I’m going to guess there is more to the story than you received.

Have them put the bill in my name and I’ll not pay them. Which is exactly what I’m going to do about a doctor that froze my ear after I asked him to cut the lump off of it and his freezing technique didn’t work. Of course for another office visit charge he promised to cut it off if his liquid nitrogen doesn’t work.

Apparently I’ve already caused the demise of the healthcare industry and caused the high prices they charge. So it’s only fair everyone should put all their bills in my name so I cannot pay them as well. Not that it’s important but it’s all in the BBQ Pit. Not going to post a link as it really isn’t important. But I’m more then glad to have all the bills in my name. I call it the “Single Blamer System”.

If your friends child is truly sick check to see if there is a Shriner’s hospital in the area. They do not charge to care for kids.

Actually, Shriner’s is going to start charging at least some of its patients and their insurance companies.

I’m sure Qagdop will have his two cents’ worth, but the “hidden” costs amount to the greater portion of any doctor bill.

You are paying for the doctor’s education, the office, the staff, the utilities, the computers, the equipment, the paper covering on the exam table, the telephone, that little jar of cotton balls, and a whole lot more.

You don’t know if the doctor talked to the previous doctors, looked at any lab reports or xrays, or just about anything that might have taken place outside of the examination room.

You can ask for a breakdown of charges. That could take months to receive.

You can report the doctor to the State.

You can call the insurance company and express dissatisfaction. If the insurance company gets enough of these calls, the doctor can be removed from the “preferred provider” list.

You can also NOT go to that doctor, ever again.

But NOT PAYING isn’t really a legitimate, effective way to deal with the situation.

It should be noted that the biggest reason for the rising number of antibiotic-resistant disease organisms is because of the over-prescribing of antibiotics. People go to the doctor, pay for the visit, and feel they should get “something” for their money.

Another suggestion: Request copies of the child’s medical records from the doctors who are thought to be doing nothing. They may have done plenty and simply not found anything of note, or may have found things that the parent didn’t understand at the time, etc. (Nominal charges may be involved for the time spent in copying/mailing, though IIRC if they are being sent to another doctor, there may not be charges. I never bother with charges unless the records are extensive, myself.)

I believe you paid for a consultation or examination, not a cure or treatment plan, etc.

If the doctor “did nothing” then here is no reason for a bill. However, remember that medicine is art. Often there is no simple “if A then B”. The human body is remarkably strange and weirdly behaved.

So a doctor can look at someone, a professional consultation. For that they can bill. They can look for some things they are intensely familiar with (I assume this is a specialist - if it’s the third GP, why waste the time doctor shopping?). They look at the problems, maybe order a few tests, ask some questions, and can rule out something or other.

It’s probably either a very unusual condition or you have hit a string of doctors with a remarkably bad knowledge base and diagnostic skills. If her problem is weird and difficult to diagnose, it’s not surprising if they go through several specialists before one realizes “aha, it must be this.” Much of medicine where people have odd diseases or conditions is like this…

In the end, a bill for a visit is better than a bill for visit and a massively expensive prescription, based on a guess, that has no effect or makes her worse.

Of course doctors are primarily instructed to “Do no harm.” I’m wondering if the doctor didn’t know what to do about the girl’s condition and told them so and hopefully referred them to someone else. It doesn’t mean the doctor shouldn’t perhaps get paid a reasonable amount for their time.