Some hospitals using trauma activation fee as 'revenue generator,' report says

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Some hospitals regularly charge trauma activation fees, which can exceed $50,000, even for patients who are never admitted, Kaiser Health News reported July 16.

Trauma activation fees represent the activation of a team of clinicians to provide trauma care, even if the team does not end up needing to treat the patient. The fees are billed on top of the amount the hospital charges for emergency medical care.

"Some hospitals are using it as a revenue generator,"  medical claims consultant Tami Rockholt, RN, BSN, told Kaiser Health News. She said the instances of hospitals that take advantage of these fees are "way more numerous" than in the past.

One facility, the trauma center at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., charged 1,285 trauma activation fees in 2019 for patients who were not admitted, a number that almost equals the number of trauma activation fees that led to admissions.

The rising number of trauma activation fees increases overall healthcare costs, as charges get passed on through higher insurance premiums and expenses paid by both healthcare and auto insurers.

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