TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - July 29, 2011 -
Tampa General Hospital has filed a $9.2 million claim against the estate of a woman who died after spending five years in the hospital, according to Hillsborough County court documents.
In court documents, that's how much the hospital says is owed
for the care of Tameka Jaqway Campbell. She died at age 29 two
years ago of progressive demyelinating neuropathy, which occurs
when the immune cells attack the body's nerves.
It's unclear whether the $9.2 million in hospital charges is a
record. Health News Florida checked with the American Hospital
Association, the Health Care Financial Management Association, and
numerous others. No one knew anyone who keeps track.
"That would have to be the biggest bill I've heard of," said
Alan Levine, a division president at the Naples-based hospital
chain Health Management Associates.
"I've seen more than $1 million," he said. "But not 9
Fort Myers hospital consultant Peter Young said, "A bill that
large may well be in a league of its own and a Guinness Book of
Could be. An online search at the Guinness Book of World Records
offers no category for "largest hospital bill."
A spokeswoman for Guinness World Records said the organization
will have to do a search to see if there's a related category for
such an item.
Meanwhile, consultant Young said, without knowing any details,
that the case is unusual. Hospital officials must believe there are
resources against which a claim can be made, he said.
There aren't, said Campbell's mother Holly Bennett.
"If they think they're getting money from me they're crazy," she said. "Who's ever even heard of a bill that high?"
Bennett thinks the lawsuit is punitive, to prevent her from filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the hospital.
"They're trying to make me go away," she said. "They're trying to cover up for the mistreatment of my daughter."
Bennett has a YouTube channel (seen above) with videos that accuse the hospital of not feeding Campbell and of giving her too much morphine. The combination caused Campbell to drop to 37 pounds, Bennett says.
The videos show a young woman, presumably Tameka, lying in a
hospital bed hooked up to tubes, including what appears to be a
Tampa General spokesman John Dunn said he can't comment on
The hospital never sent an actual bill for its charges, Bennett
said. Instead it filed the list of charges on its claim against the
Guardianship records at the Hillsborough County Courthouse show
that the court removed Bennett as her daughter's health care
surrogate and appointed a professional guardian. It's unclear from
the documents why Bennett was removed.
The attorney representing Tampa General said he could not
comment. Bennett does not have an attorney.
But if she acquires one and pushes forward with a wrongful death
suit, the parties will either haggle and settle out-of-court or a
jury and judgment would decide how much money goes to the mother, the estate or the hospital, said South Florida attorney John
Barry Dubinsky, a medical malpractice attorney in Coral Springs,
said hospitals frequently file claims against the estate of a
patient who has died and has unpaid bills.
"Technically, you have to file in case the estate gets funded,
then you've got your hand in the pot," he said of Tampa General.
"It's business, it's all business. The hospital is just trying to
get their money."