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Judge restores hospital bill for overseas patient

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph)

The Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by a magistrate which more than halved a medical bill faced by a visitor.

While magistrate Tyrone Chin had found in favour of the Bermuda Hospitals Board that the patient owed $7,092.89 for treatment of a viral infection, he rejected a claim for $8,085 for a Diagnostic Related Group Charge because the figure did not appear to match the legislation.

But Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden ruled in a judgment handed down late last month that the magistrate had overlooked a surcharge for those who do not reside in Bermuda.

He said: “In my view the learned magistrate flummoxed himself as to the application of the proper calculation and thus erred in finding that the $2,695 was a discrepancy when in fact it was the 50 per cent surcharge.

“On that basis and in light of the credible evidence before the learned magistrate, it was not open to him to disallow the claim for the DRG charge.”

The court heard that in December 2014, the patient reported suffering back pains during a visit to Bermuda.

He was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where we was examined by a doctor, received blood tests and a CAT scan before being given medication.

The patient was released the following day. His mother later received an invoice for the services provided.

Mr Chin found that, under the legislation in effect at the time, the DRG charge was $5,390 rather than the $8,085 billed, which brought into doubt the veracity of the charges.

However, in the Supreme Court, the BHB argued that the magistrate was mistaken because the legislation allowed for a 50 per cent increase for patients who were non-resident.

Under the Bermuda Hospitals Board (Hospital Fees) Regulations 2014, non-resident patients who are admitted to hospital for less than 15 days are billed based on their diagnosis related group, assigned by a doctor, plus a 50 per cent surcharge.

Mr Justice Mussenden found in favour of the argument given that there was no dispute that the patient received medical care and, as a non-resident, should receive the legislated surcharge.

He added that while the BHB sought to overturn the Magistrates’ Court ruling, the body had told the Supreme Court it would not attempt to enforce the charge.

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