A billing company working on behalf of Lawrence Memorial Hospital recently mailed out more than 5,000 erroneous letters to patients informing them that their accounts were moving toward collections.
The hospital says it asked the company, Columbia, S.C.-based AMCOL Systems, to send follow-up calls and letters informing patients of the mistake. LMH has ceased doing business with the company and is in the process of finding a new vendor.
"Nobody's credit score or credit rating is going to be impacted by anything that happened with this letter," said LMH chief financial officer Joe Pedley. "Absolutely none of that will be reported to any credit-reporting agency."
He said that in the changing health care landscape, hospitals like LMH work with so-called early-out vendors like AMCOL Systems to attempt to collect debts sooner.
"With reduced payments from the government, we have to collect what we can as quickly as we can. And patient responsibilities are going up because of increased deductibles and copayments," he said.
Pedley said the letters were sent out May 28 as a result of a computer programming error by AMCOL Systems — the company hadn't returned a call for comment as of midday Wednesday — and that the hospital worked quickly to rectify the problem.
"LMH really values our relationship with our patients," he added. "We apologize and hope that this doesn't have an impact on our patients' trust of us."