A class action lawsuit has been filed against Adeptus Health, the Lewisville, Texas-based parent company of First Choice Emergency Room freestanding ER facilities, and accuses the company of “fraudulent and unconscionable failure to disclose ‘Facilities Fees’ to consumers before they are treated at Adeptus’s so-called freestanding emergency rooms.”

The suit was filed by former patient David Adkinson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman. Adkinson is a Colorado physician and was treated at an Adeptus freestanding ER in Colorado for a thigh contusion (bruise) following a fall. Adeptus owns and operates its freestanding ERs in Texas and Colorado.

According to the suit, Adkinson was billed more than $2,000 for a five-minute visit, including a $1,200 “facilities fee.” Adkinson says the facilities fee was never disclosed to him and the suit contends that facilities fees are not disclosed in any of Adeptus’ patient intake forms.

Under Texas law, freestanding ERs must “prominently and conspicuously” display notices in their front entrances and on their websites stating that they charge rates that are comparable to hospital ERs.

Freestanding emergency rooms are different than urgent care centers, which typically treat patients for minor medical issues at times when their regular physician is not available. They bill patients just like a doctor’s office and do not charge facilities fees. However, according to the suit, many consumers are easily confused between urgent care centers and freestanding ERs and “it is this perception upon which Adeptus preys.”

The lawsuit contends that Adeptus actively targets consumers with high-deductible insurance polices via targeted marketing campaigns that do not mention a facilities fee. It alleges that Adeptus charges every patient “astronomical” facilities fees — sometimes in excess of $6,000, even for non-emergencies.

The suit charges Adeptus with fraud by nondisclosure, deceptive trade practices and unjust enrichment. It asks for class certification, punitive and compensatory damages, restitution and an injunction preventing the company from continuing its “fraudulent and deceptive practices.”

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