If you wonder why hospitals are under fire for outrageous and often baffling accounting practices, look no further than a brief paper published last month in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Hospital charges for straightforward appendectomies done for acute appendicitis in California in 2009 were examined with the following inclusion criteria:

  • Patients between the ages of 18 and 59
  • Hospital stays fewer than 4 days
  • Discharged home

For the more than 19,000 records reviewed, the median hospital charge was $33,611 with a low of $1,529 and a high of $182,955. Not included in the article but mentioned in news stories about the paper were more details about the care of the two patients at the extremes of charges.

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