Unwanted medical care. Why should I pay?

I have Epilepsy.
Over the last several years I’ve had many Gran-Mal seizures. I owe a total of over $13,000 in medical bills and ambulance rides.

I’m unconscious when I’m having these seizures and someone calls an ambulance for me. I usually come out of it either on a gurney as they are loading me in the ambulance or on the ride to the ER.

I inform people of my condition and even have told them not to call and I’ll be fine after it passes.

My point is, do I have any way of getting out from under these bills? I didn’t call for them and refuse care after I’m conscious.

I know YANAL…

You need to rearrange your life (live by yourself, work from home, minimize social interaction…) so you have these seizures when no one else is around.

MedicAlert bracelet. Wear one that says something to the effect of “Epileptic – do not treat seizures”. EMTs are trained and obliged to look for such devices immediately, and conduct their procedures accordingly. It is a directive expressing both the will of the patient and the appropriate response, and if an EMT fails to act in accordance, he will be professionally irresponsible, and you will be off the hook.

As for your priors, your lawyer could argue that a competent EMT would have recognized an epileptic seizure, and that you were treated incompetently, besides against your will.

Ambulance operators are in the business of scooping up every warm body and taking t hem for a $2,000 ride. It’s a national scandal.

My husband, who is a retired paramedic and has run several ambulance companies in a couple of different states, (but is not an attorney, medical or otherwise) says that if you told them when you came to in the ambulance that you refused transport, then you probably have a legal leg to stand on. You’ll need a lawyer, however.

If you weren’t coherent enough to articulate refusal, you’re screwed.

He also seconds the recommendation for a MedicAlert ID that says something like, “EPILEPSY - REFUSE TRANSPORT FOR SEIZURE”

Are you under the care of a neurologist? Any way to change your medications so that you don’t have seizures so often?

Moderator Action

Since this is more of an advice question than a factual question, let’s move it over to IMHO.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

When I received first aid training last year, we were taught that the standard treatment for any seizure is just to remove any dangerous objects from the patient’s vicinity and let it run its course. This should be even more true for a patient where seizures are already known to occur.

This is true, but have you ever been with someone while they have a seizure? For the 99+ percent of people who have never seen one, even when warned about them by the epileptic person, they are very scary and those without training will panic and call 911 anyway.

I also agree with the medical alert bracelet. I recently needed to get one for myself, for different reasons, but on the outside chance, why do I want to risk it? And for you, where the chance is very much on the inside, I would think you would want something to speak for you when you can’t. Especially since your acquaintances have proven themselves incapable.

And yet you’d be surprised at the number of patients I see with chronic seizure disorder who are non-compliant with their meds but their family still calls 911 Every. Single. Time. Then they look at me like I’m crazy when I ask why they called an ambulance as I’m discharging the patient 10 minutes after they arrive.

I had it happen once (although to be fair, they had found me passed out at the bus stop, so nobody knew what had happened). Perhaps you could also put on your bracelet a contact number?

I agree with you – I argued in a thread about someone who had a classmate with seizures that one should NOT automatically call 9-11, unless said seizure lasts longer than (I think it’s what, three minutes?) People kept shooting me down.

Please, listen to us epileptics. We don’t need emergency treatment every time we have a seizure. It looks damned scary, but generally we’ll be fine.

Is there an option to get temporary Medicaid to help you pay off your bills? When I was first diagnosed, it was because a I had a seizure on the bus, and ended up in the hospital for a week. After all the tests, I racked up enough of a bill that I qualified for some kind of special aid that helped me pay off my bills. (I wasn’t eligible to get Medicaid permanently, just to take care of the hospital bills). It couldn’t hurt to check it out.

Good luck!

(Fortunately, I haven’t had a grand mal in years. Still, better safe than sorry. I didn’t realize that was an option to have that on a bracelet – perhaps an upgrade is in order?)

5 minutes is Status Epilepticus, and yeah, that warrants an ER visit. I remember that thread. I got your back, girl. :wink:

Can you get a membership to your local ambulance? Many of them have reciprocal agreements with other ambulance services. For the cost of about $100 a year, you are covered for ambulance transfer costs. They will bill your insurance and anything not paid for by your insurance is written off.


No, seriously. EMT’s will almost always insist on taking you to the hospital, just in case there’s a major complication. If the patient refuses transport, they will make you sign a waiver saying you promise not to sue them later, if something does happen. (And you can’t sign the waiver while unconscious, obviously.) It’s extremely rare for anyone to sue because they were treated & delivered, even rarer for them to collect any money, whereas lawsuits over malpractice and/or negligence are legion.

IOW, you’re basically SOL. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. :frowning:

Horseshit! Those Dr. Spock full body scanners only existed in that TV show.
By the time EMS gets there the patient is typically past actively seizing & is postictal. The seizure that was reported could be from epilepsy, it could be from a tumor in the brain, it could be from something else.
Some diabetics also do smack. We can’t just give a little sugar & walk away because a bracelet says that’s the problem.
Basically if you’re not alert & oriented EMS is not allowed to take a refusal from you.

I thought about the bracelet but didn’t think it would any good. I doubt the EMT’s would find me unconscious, see the Medic alert and just leave. I’ve applied for Disability and medicaid, still waiting.

I have to agree that as a layperson, witnessing a seizure is terrifying, even if the person has told you it might happen, you still feel you hold their life in your hands by not calling 911. Longest 2 minutes of my goddamn life (and it was a petite mal type seizure - frozen and slightly trembling.)

If you want strangers to not call an ambulance when you have a seizure they have no way to evaluate, stop going out in public.

EMT’s don’t usually work as fast as they do on TV unless there’s lots of blood everywhere. They’re going to be busy doing their assessment and loading you onto a stretcher and adjusting the straps and moseying their way to the ambulance so as not to cause a panic in the onlookers, doing up a bit of paperwork, asking people if anyone saw you just before this happened…I’ve *never *seen them load someone and drive away in under 5 minutes. If you’re still seizing at the 5 minute mark, you need to be checked out, because that’s no longer “just a seizure”. If you’re not seizing at the 5 minute mark, then you’re alert enough to tell them you don’t want to go to the hospital. You may still be a little groggy and out of it, but an EMT has a specific scorecard and professional training that helps them differentiate between “a little groggy and out of it” and “altered mental status, may not refuse transport.” You can refuse transport mid-ride, and if you are not assessed with altered mental status, they have to stop the ambulance and let you out.

So they’re probably not going to leave before your seizure is over, with or without you. They’ll stand around for a few minutes to see what happens next.

If you’re regularly having seizures that last so long that they’re getting you on the road without you regaining consciousness, then there are serious safety concerns with you leaving the house alone. That would get you the homebound label in my line of work, and a stern admonition that you have a companion or service animal with you at all times. Part of the consequence of not following that advice is having big ambulance bills because strangers call 911 for you.

Well, if EMTs are called to a scene, and the patient has a DNR (do not resuscitate order), EMTs will not attempt to revive the person, even if it means that the patient will die. So don’t underestimate the value of medical alert bracelet.

Yeah, if the patient is fully dead! But if they’re only mostly dead, they’ll still bring the patient to the hospital.

That’s actually a fairly recent change and does not apply in all areas.