Man secures €750 refund after being overcharged for hospital stay

The Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall.

A man has been refunded €750 after he complained to the Ombudsman about being overcharged for staying in two hospitals.

The man, who suffers from a severe kidney condition, was admitted to two different hospitals over 12 months where he spent a total of 29 nights. At the time there was a €75 per day charge for a hospital stay, the charge is now €80 per day.

However, he was charged €1,500 despite there being a cap of €750 on hospital stays in any 12-month period regardless of how many public hospitals a patient is admitted to, or the condition that requires treatment.

The man spent nine nights in the first hospital and was correctly charged €675. He then had to spend 20 nights in a second hospital. The second hospital charged him the capped fee of €750, but did not take account of the €675 the man had already paid the first hospital.

When the Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall, investigated the complaint he was initially told by the HSE that the 12-month cap was in respect of each hospital and, therefore, the man was correctly charged €1,500.

However, when the Ombudsman brought the relevant legislation to the HSE’s attention it agreed to refund the excess charge to the man.

Mr Tyndall said he was concerned that it could happen again as "there is no integrated payment system for managing hospital charges".

As a result, the HSE has published clearer guidelines on its website, along with advice on the importance of patients keeping receipts. It has also updated information notices in hospitals and asked hospital groups to do the same.

The Ombudsman will review the actions taken by the HSE in the coming months.

Patients who have queries on their hospital charge should contact the HSE by phone at 041-6850300 or by e-mail: hselive@hse.ie

- Digital Desk

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