Shelby Knowles for KHN
Earlier this year, Grace Elizabeth Elliott got a mysterious hospital bill for medical care she had never received.
She soon discovered how far a clerical error can reach — even across a continent — and how frustrating it can be to fix.
During a college break in 2013, Elliott, then 22, began to feel faint and feverish while visiting her parents in Venice, Fla., which is about an hour south of Tampa. Her mother, a nurse, drove her to a facility that locals knew simply as Venice Hospital.
In the emergency department, Elliott was diagnosed with a kidney infection and held overnight before being discharged with a prescription for antibiotics, a common treatment for the illness.
“My hospital bill was about $100, which I remember because that was a lot of money for me as an undergrad,” said Elliott, now 31.
She recovered and eventually moved to California to teach preschool. Venice Regional Medical Center was bought by Community Health Systems, based in Franklin, Tenn., in 2014 and eventually renamed ShorePoint Health Venice.
The kidney infection and overnight stay in the E.R. would have been little more than a memory for Elliott.
Then another bill came.
The Patients: Grace E. Elliott, 31, a preschool teacher living with her husband in San Francisco, and Grace A. Elliott, 81, a retiree in Venice, Fla.
Medical Services: For Grace E., an emergency department visit and overnight stay, plus antibiotics to treat a kidney infection in 2013. For Grace A., a shoulder replacement and rehabilitation services