A different kind of healing: Hospital honchos to reimburse patients illegally charged for rape kits

Before LICH pitch, Brooklyn Hospital bounced back from bankruptcy
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Administrators at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene must cut checks to sexual-assault victims who were illegally billed for rape kits over the past several years, New York State’s Attorney General said on Nov. 28 while announcing a settlement he reached with hospital officials.

The state’s top prosecutor cut the deal with the medical center’s honchos after an investigation uncovered that Brooklyn Hospital broke the law when it charged sexual-assault survivors for their tests — a horrible and illegal mistake that only added to the victims’ burdens, he said.

“It’s hard to imagine the heartache and anxiety a survivor must feel having to fight a collection agency over an unlawful bill for a rape kit,” Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable, and we will not
allow it to continue.”

The attorney general started sniffing around at the DeKalb Avenue hospital after a patient complained that she received seven bills for a forensic-rape exam she underwent in its emergency room. Sexual-assault survivors are entitled to free emergency care under New York State law, according to Schneiderman.

His hard look revealed that between January 2015 and February 2017, medical-center administrators incorrectly billed 85 out of 86 rape-exam recipients, either by directly sending invoices to patients or submitting them to their insurers without discussing payment options as required by the law, according to the investigation report.

Hospital officials claimed the charges were merely a clerical error, but agreed to overhaul their protocols to ensure similar mistakes never happen again as part of the settlement, according to the facility’s head honcho.

“There was an inadvertent breakdown in our billing processes related to sexual assault victims, which we deeply regret,” Gary Terrinoni said in a statement, in which he also pledged to follow laws in place to protect
sexual-assault victims.

If you would like to issue a complaint regarding the hospital’s billing or other healthcare issues, contact the Attorney General’s Health Care Helpline at (800) 428–9071.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.