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Big Medical Bill Sets Off Class Action

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A class action in city court claims Barnes-Jewish Hospital, BJC Health System and Washington University charge patients pricey, undisclosed fees for treatment.

Named plaintiff Adam Flath claims he learned of the fees after being treated at the Center for Advanced Medicine, an outpatient facility at the Washington University Medical Center, on Oct. 3, 2011.

"The treatment was a simple outpatient procedure that took three minutes at most," the complaint states. "But because this simple treatment was performed in a doctor's office next to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the charges were $1,004.00, including a $420.00 facility fee from Barnes-Jewish Hospital, even though it was a non-hospital, outpatient procedure performed in a doctor's office, which could have been performed in any doctor's office, whether or not it was next to a hospital.

"Defendants never disclosed to plaintiff before the treatment that this simple procedure would include a facility fee from Barnes-Jewish Hospital to patients who receive services at doctor's offices and outpatient clinic next to or affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital, even though the services are non-hospital outpatient services."

The class consists of all patients who received services at a doctor's office or outpatient clinic affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and BJC who were charged a facility fee for non-hospital, outpatient services. It seeks actual and punitive damages for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Flath and the putative class are represented by Jason Charpentier, with Growe Eisen Karlen, and by Ryan Furniss.

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