I ended up with a massive bill for a plastic surgeon I didn’t want

Dear John: On May 28, 2018, I dropped a glass and it broke. When I went to pick up the pieces, I severely sliced my right hand and went to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

When I arrived at the ER, the first question the nurse asked me was: “Do you want a plastic surgeon in case there is a scar?”

I immediately said no. My exact words were, “Absolutely not. I just need to see a doctor immediately.” After I declined the plastic surgeon, I waited approximately 15 minutes for the doctor to arrive.

It was not the doctor; it was the plastic surgeon that I absolutely declined. He gave me 10 stitches, and I was out of work for a week. I went to my primary physician to remove the stitches, and went back to work immediately that day.

I now have a bill of $20,680 in collection that is severely damaging my credit score. I wrote several letters to LIJ and the doctor’s office telling them that I declined a plastic surgeon. And my brother took me to the ER, so he can attest to that.

John, please help me with this because there is no way I can afford this in my lifetime, after declining the request/need for a plastic surgeon. Thanks C.M.

Dear C.M.: OK, I took care of this for you. My understanding is that you now owe nothing.

The doctor is willing to accept the $3,000 he got from your insurance company, which, of course, is a gift to him because you didn’t want him to do the work in the first place.

But that’s another story. And if I were your insurance company, I’d take this doctor to task for inserting himself into a situation where he wasn’t wanted.

Anyway, here’s what happened.

I didn’t call the doctor’s office. And I didn’t call the hospital, which had no responsibility in sending the bill. I did call the company that owns the hospital. That’s Northwell Health.

My contact there was very disturbed by your story and Northwell, which was extremely helpful, took up your cause with the doctor.

The doctor office’s explanation? According to Northwell, the doctor didn’t like the $3,000 he was getting (for 10 stitches!) and wanted the insurance company to pay more. But he couldn’t get more unless you filled out some forms because your insurance is out of state.

For some reason you didn’t sign the forms, and they couldn’t reach you. So the office upped his bill to $20,000 and gave it to a collection agency. (Why? I guess because they wanted to get your attention.)

Thankfully, there aren’t many doctors who behave this badly. The American Medical Association should contact Northwell to get this guy’s name and look into this so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Anyway, he wanted to get your attention. I hope we got his.

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