Pennsylvania hospital charges couple $63 for olive oil to turn breech baby

Bryn Mawr (Pa.) Hospital, part of Philadelphia-based Main Line Health, reportedly charged a couple $63 for olive oil to help turn their baby who was in breech in-utero, according to The Inquirer.

Elana Baurer and her husband, Drew Kotler, MD, have received several medical bills since giving birth to their first child in August. However, the couple told The Inquirer one of the charges they were surprised to find was a $63 bill for olive oil.

The couple visited the hospital a few weeks prior to their expected due date to try and turn their baby, which had been curled feet-down in-utero. The couple said a midwife recommended Ms. Baurer undergo an external cephalic to turn the baby and give birth without undergoing a cesarean section.

During the visit, a Bryn Mawr physician drizzled sweet oil, a derivative of olive oil, as a topical lubricant on Ms. Baurer's stomach to reduce friction and try to manually rotate the baby.

Joseph Gobern, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Main Line Health, told The Inquirer the couple's physician used a 1-ounce, single-use bottle of "hospital-grade" sweet oil. The lubricant is also available over the counter, and The Inquirer discovered a 4-ounce bottle retails for $3.94 on Amazon.

Ms. Baurer said the oil was itemized on a hospital statement, but in the explanation of benefits from her insurance plan, it was lumped into a $2,060 charge for "miscellaneous services" related to the external cephalic version.

"I thought [the sweet oil charge] was just comical, and emblematic of what's wrong with our healthcare system. It feels like it's fraudulent to price-gouge, but it's also unclear how much insurance paid for it," Dr. Kolter told the publication.

The couple said they plan to pay the bill. However, the procedure was not successful and Ms. Baurer ultimately ended up undergoing a C-section to deliver the baby.

To access the full report, click here.

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