Most states provide hospitals and healthcare providers with unique statutory ways of ensuring that they are reimbursed for services they provide. Simply put, a hospital or health care provider lien is a statutory lien enacted for the benefit of hospitals or health care providers to assist in the recovery of medical expenses associated with emergency medical treatment. Hospitals or other health care providers are generally allowed to “perfect” this special lien against any lawsuit, claim, or recovery a patient has against a third-party tortfeasor responsible for causing an injury. If not properly perfected and “maintained”, however, hospital liens can be the source of expensive problems for hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers.
As with many things in life, the first step is the most important and often the most confusing. States differ on their procedures, but a hospital lien is generally perfected by filing with the county clerk, the district court, or other government body specified in the hospital lien statute, written notice of the name and address of the patient, the third-party tortfeasor (if known), the liability carrier (if known), the name and address of the hospital, and the amount of the lien. Once a notice of hospital lien is filed in the county where the hospital is located, the district court/clerk is usually required to maintain a hospital lien docket that can easily be searched, and in which any hospital lien claim filed is entered. The district court usually lists the name of the injured person, the name of the person, firm, or corporation alleged to be liable for the injuries and damages, the date and place of the accident, and the name of the hospital or other institution making the claim. Hospitals are often then required to send written notice of the lien filing to the patient, the third-party tortfeasor, and/or the liability carrier.
Statutes regarding hospital liens vary widely from state to state and are often mired in controversy as plaintiff’s attorney argue over how to interpret the statute, when to apply it and how much a hospital or medical provider can collect. Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C. (MWL) specializes in the in efficient pursuit of hospital and healthcare provider liens in all 50 states. It is important to remember that lien statues exist to protect providers and providers should not hesitate to utilize those laws when appropriate. With MWL on your side, you can be sure that your hospital and healthcare provider liens are properly perfected and appropriately applied to maximize reimbursement of patient care services.