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|Defending Hospital Collection Cases - Counterclaim: Malpractice||
Last updated: October 2005
(Chapter 8 from Defending Hospital Collection Cases Manual)
The Consumer Fraud Act prohibits unfair practices in trade or commerce. Starting in 2004, lawsuits have been filed across the country which allege that charging uninsured patients three times what insured patients have to pay--for the same services--constitutes an unfair trade practice within the meaning of the law. To date there have been few decisions on this issue, but a local judge has allowed a Consumer Fraud Act claim of this nature to survive a motion to dismiss (a suit of this nature in California against giant Tenet Healthcare Corp. settled in 2004). See Servedio, below.
The dictum "the best defense is a good offense" is true in the context of hospital collection cases as well. If your client has a possible claim of malpractice, he/she may be able to recover big bucks with which to pay the hospital bill. Always inquire into the quality of services rendered and the outcome of the treatment. Note the two-year (in some instances four-year) limitation period in the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/13-212.
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