March 3rd, 2010
04:11 PM ET

Health care industry sick with medical waste

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/HEALTH/03/03/prescription.for.waste/story.health.jpg caption="Wasteful spending accounts for half of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the United States, says a 2008 report." width=300 height=169]

John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

In a home office, slipped inside file cabinets and stacked on top of workspaces, Cindy Holtzman has amassed a collection of "medical waste." She's not hoarding used syringes or old bandages. She's hanging on to hospital bills that are loaded with outrageous examples of money that was poorly spent.

"Nobody usually looks at their bills," Holtzman said. "There could be lots of mistakes."

Holtzman, a consumer advocate with Medical Billing Advocates of America, looks at medical bills for a living. Among the excessive charges she's seen: A patient in Florida was billed $140 dollars for one Tylenol pill; a patient in South Carolina was billed $1,000 for a tooth brush; a patient in Georgia was billed more than $4,000 for 41 bags of IV saline solution when she went to the emergency room for a two-hour visit and used just one bag.

In the Georgia example, Holtzman says, the patient's insurance company paid the entire claim.

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Filed under: Health Care
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