Why is trauma activation so expensive?

An 8-month-old baby fell 3 feet and hit his head on a carpeted floor in a San Francisco hotel room. He was crying and the parents, who were from South Korea, called an ambulance. By the time the child arrived at the hospital he was obviously fine. After a bottle, a nap, and a few hours in the hospital, he was discharged.

The hospital sent a bill two years later, which included a charge of $15,666 for a trauma activation.

A trauma activation involves paging a number of hospital staff to go to the emergency department as quickly as possible. Those paged may include an attending surgeon, two or three surgical residents, an anesthesiologist or anesthesia resident, a respiratory therapist, a critical care nurse, and operating room nurse, and x-ray technician, a chaplain, and various others.

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