Invoice inaccuracy: $44 million hospital bill makes patient gasp

Invoice inaccuracy: $44 million hospital bill makes patient gasp

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
16. January 2012 15:42

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let me start today's post with a quote from King:

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

In logistics news...

Billing accuracy is an important component of any trusted business. For a company that handles many transactions each day, audit and analysis services and payment process reporting can be invaluable. One hospital in New York offers an eye-opening example of why it's critical to capture the right invoice data.

Invoice #44776587

Last week, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital issued inaccurate bills to its patients. The culprit? A programming error that pulled the bill's invoice number as the amount due. If you're familiar with the lengthy format of most invoice numbers, you can imagine how skewed the bills were.

For example, patient Alexis Rodriguez owed less than $300 for outpatient services. Astoundingly, he was billed over $44 million ($44,776,587)! Rodriguez, who had been treated for pneumonia, told the NY Daily News that he had "almost had an asthma attack" upon seeing the bill.

Is Houdini the face of expensive taste?

This is not the first time I've seen such an error (this week). Just yesterday, I was at a pet store buying toys and supplies for my new kitten, Houdini. As the sales representative scanned a toy with a price sticker of $10.99, she noticed a problem with the register. As she discussed it with her associate, I wondered, What's the problem? Did my $10.99 mouse ring up for $109.90?

No, it was far more comical. Had the billing error gone unnoticed, I would have been charged over $3 million for cat toys. Not even the biggest item -- a scratching post -- could scratch the surface of a charge like that!

Invoice errors can happen in any industry. Do you have the tools and services to keep your invoices in line and your transportation on target?

Marly M. C. Hazen is Webmaster at CTSI-Global and Editor of The Link.

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