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$9M Hospital Bill Caps Strange Tale

When Tampa General recently filed a $9.2 million claim against the estate of a penniless woman, it left itself open to criticism. But a look at Hillsborough probate court records offers perspective.

They describe what one court officer described as a “very special case, very difficult.” Among other things, it provides a cautionary tale for those deciding on a health-care surrogate.

Tameka Campbell, in her mid-20s when she was admitted to Tampa General, spent five years there only because the hospital could not find any place that would take her. It couldn’t get financial help from the state, records show, nor cooperation from Campbell’s mother.

The case is a good example of a paradox of the health-care system: A dying patient can be kept alive on a ventilator with a feeding tube almost indefinitely, yet there are few places for such a patient to go for care and often no way to pay for it.

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