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Statement on Settlement of Class Action Lawsuit
- SEATTLE, Wash. - Nov. 02, 2006 - In January 2005 a class action lawsuit was filed against Virginia Mason involving hospital charges for outpatient procedures in hospital-based settings. This lawsuit alleged two different claims.
Regarding the first claim, in mid-October a judge granted Virginia Mason’s motion to conclude that it is not a violation of the Washington State Consumer Protection Act for Virginia Mason to bill a hospital charge for certain outpatient services provided at the downtown hospital campus, when those same services may be available at a VM satellite clinic without a hospital charge. This billing method is standard in our region and in the U.S. health care industry overall.
Instead of concentrating on a trial, Virginia Mason settled the second claim regarding the disclosure of information on the practice of billing hospital charges at the downtown hospital campus. Our desire is to focus our energy on continuing to make improvements that will help our patients.
As part of the resolution, a notice will be mailed by a third-party administrator on Friday, Nov. 17, to patients who were identified as potential members of the class. Publication of the contents of the notice in two Seattle newspapers is expected shortly thereafter. The notice summarizes the proposed resolution and gives members of the class an opportunity to comment on or object to the resolution. A hearing at which the judge will consider whether the proposed resolution is approved will be held in early January.
We have already made many improvements in how we communicate to patients about billing, and additional enhancements will be made for the benefit of our patients. As an organization, we believe in transparency, and this settlement gives us an opportunity to focus more resources on helping patients get the information they need.
Patients who have questions regarding this matter should contact Virginia Mason’s Patient Account Services Department at (206) 223-6601.
Sarah Patterson, Executive Vice President, Hospital Administrator, Virginia Mason Medical Center