DO NO HARM
The documentary Do No Harm tells the incredible story of two medical professionals in the small community of Albany, Georgia: general surgeon, Dr. John Bagnato, and Charles Rehberg, who exposed unethical billing practices towards both uninsured and underinsured patients at Phoebe Putney Hospital, the local non-profit hospital. Do No Harm explores a critical issue for all Americans–the need for affordable health care–through the unveiling of an emerging scandal in our nation’s non-profit hospitals.
Bagnato and Rehberg uncovered millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts and lucrative for-profit businesses under the control of Phoebe Putney Hospital. Board members held exclusive contracts with the hospital and politicians received timely contributions, under shockingly legal practices.
With more than 47 million Americans uninsured and millions more underinsured1, health care costs have reached an all-time high, and over half of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by medical costs.2 Yet, 85% of the hospitals in this country are non-profit with stated missions to help the poor.3 Several large hospital systems–mostly non-profits systems–recently have been accused of bankrupting the uninsured by charging rates several times what they charge the insured, and then hounding them with aggressive collection practices.
Though they were hounded by hospital officials and local authorities, Bagnato and Rehberg never stopped investigating. They looked beyond Georgia and discovered that these practices were pervasive among non-profit hospitals across the U.S. The two took their findings to legislators and government agencies, but no entity would address the issues comprehensively.
To help further the cause, Bagnato and Rehberg called upon nationally known attorney, Dick Scruggs, who famously fought and beat Big Tobacco. Scruggs and a national team of lawyers filed class action lawsuits against 37 healthcare systems in 26 states to shed light on the issue. Eventually, Congress took notice, and Senator Chuck Grassley began an investigation into ten non-profit hospitals, including Phoebe Putney.
Do No Harm is a compelling film produced to educate the uninsured and underinsured about their rights, and to lend a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.
NOTE: Do No Harm includes footage from news organization WALB of Albany, Georgia. WALB is a non-biased news organization. In no way does WALB endorse this documentary or its producers.
1 KCMU and Urban Institute Analysis of March 2006 population Survey
2 Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy, MarketWatch, 2005
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