Rabies treatment after cat bite leads to $48,512 medical bill for Florida woman

A Florida woman was charged $48,512 for rabies treatment after a cat bite, primarily for an antibody injection, according to a report on npr.org.

Six things to know:

1. Jeannette Parker, 44, a state fish and wildlife biologist, saw a hungry stray cat wandering along a road in a rural area outside Everglades National Park in south Florida. When she tried to feed the cat, the animal bit her finger.

2. Ms. Parker tried to seek rabies treatment at the local public health department. But since the department was closed, she went to the emergency room at Tavernier, Fla.-based Mariners Hospital, part of Baptist Health South Florida. She received the first in a series of rabies shots, an injection of rabies immune globulin, and says she did not talk with a physician at all during the two hour-visit, according to the report.

3. Charges related to the emergency room visit totaled $48,512, most of which was for the rabies immune globulin.

4. Baptist Health spokesperson Dori Robau Alvarez said the hospital's rabies prevention protocol generally includes several rabies vaccine doses as well as one administration of rabies immune globulin. The first in a series of rabies vaccine and the rabies immune globulin are administered in the ER immediately after treatment of the initial bite or wound. She said the patient may also receive antibiotics and other additional medications depending on their condition.

5. Ms. Parker was treated on Sept. 22, the month before the hospital reduced the cost of the rabies immune globulin to $1,650.00 per 2-milliliter dose. Ms. Alvarez said statements for patients who received treatment before the change would reflect the previous charge of $7,737 per 2-milliliter dose.

6. Ms. Parker's insurer covered $34,618 of her total $48,512 ER bill, according to the report. Ms. Parker's out-of-pocket costs include her 10 percent share of the charges that American Postal Workers Union accepted. She is asking the hospital to resubmit the bill to her insurer to see if her costs can be reduced.

Ms. Alvarez said: "We work with our patients on a case-by-case basis to resolve any concerns; and are doing so in this case."


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