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For a scratch? $57,000 hospital bill for rabies vaccine has Gwinnett family reeling



ATLANTA, Ga. – Does this look like a $55,000 dollar injury?

Charles Ritz said a raccoon barely scratched him in his backyard in Gwinnett County. Doctors told him that, to be safe, he should get a rabies vaccine.

Ritz was out on his back patio late Saturday when he said a raccoon started running around his legs as a cat would. It wasn’t aggressive, but it was odd, and he said that when he went to step away, the raccoon scratched his barefoot.

The scratch didn’t hurt at all, but he said the cost of the treatment has been painful.

“I was breathless. I thought it was a mistake. Yeah, $5,500 is what I was thinking. I have never seen this,” said Charles and Carina Ritz.

They read the hospital bill from Gwinnett Northside over and over again.

“I thought, there must be some mistake,” Carina said. “So, I called the hospital and the lady said, ‘No, there’s no mistake, that is the price.'”

Charles didn’t think it was a big deal when the raccoon scratched him, so he simply went to bed. But, the next morning, he called his doctor.

“The doctor called me back, and said, ‘I’m sorry, but you need to go to the ER.’ And my wife took it from there,” he said.

Carina talked to the health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the emergency room doctors.

They all agreed that Charles should get the rabies vaccine.

“They said at the end of the day, it’s more likely that the animal did not have rabies, but they didn’t know for sure because it wasn’t aggressive,” Charles said. “But they said they needed to go through with the treatment as a precaution.”