I'm not happy to report that I've spent an inordinate amount of time inside hospitals in the past few years. Which means I've seen some pretty weird stuff go down -- everything from watching a transportation aide nearly toppling a gurney with a patient in it to another patient being asked to sign papers removing him from hospice care in the middle of a chemo infusion. That, of course, deserves its own post, which I may never have the stomach to write but...
Today's New York Times article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg reporting on debt collectors pursuing patients in hospital beds may deserve its own prize for a new low in commerce -- never mind compassion. Minnesota's attorney general, Lori Swanson, thinks it may be a common practice for the company she's talking to state and federal regulators about -- Accretive Health -- but it isn't a stretch to think they're not the only ones doing this. Here's a snippet. Totally outrageous. Send the execs behind this to corporate ethics school -- immediately:
To patients, the debt collectors may look indistinguishable from hospital employees, may demand they pay outstanding bills and may discourage them from seeking emergency care at all, even using scripts like those in collection boiler rooms, according to the documents and employees interviewed by The New York Times.
In some cases, the company’s workers had access to health information while persuading patients to pay overdue bills, possibly in violation of federal privacy laws, the documents indicate.