A pneumonia patient in the US, currently out of job, was absolutely shocked when he was billed a whopping 44 million dollars by the hospital where he received three weeks of treatment for the illness.
Alexis Rodriguez panicked when he received the statement from the Bronx-Lebanon hospital, which indicated that he owed them 44,776,587 dollars for outpatient services that in reality amounted to no more than 300 dollars.
But he quickly realized that the terrifying invoice couldn't be right. He called the billing company and found out he wasn't the only one getting such inflated numbers. Several hundred patients had also got similar bills because of a 'system error'.
"I almost had an asthma attack," the New York Daily News quoted Rodriguez as saying.
The billing firm, PHY Services, said it was a simple mistake: The subcontractor that prints the bills put the invoice number into the 'amount due' field.
"We are sending an apology letter to everyone who received it," said PHY Services rep Ricardo Paul.
Rodriguez said that even though no harm was done to him financially, the company should have been more careful.
"It was a big error," he said.
"I think they should have somebody look over the bills before they send them out.
"I understand manpower may be down, but to send out a lot of bills with numbers that big - someone could have had a heart attack," he said.
Hospital spokesman Errol Schneer said he didn't blame Rodriguez for being upset.
"We certainly share any concerns he would have," he said.