Ever wondered what it costs to have a doll shoe removed from a child’s nose? These parents found out the hard way
“I think she has something up her nose.”
As a parent, these are words you never really want to say and you certainly don’t want to hear — especially on the rare occasion you actually hire a sitter to have a grown-up night out. Such was the case one April evening for Katy and Michael Branson of Las Vegas, who were just about to head out for a date night. But before they could make it out the door, he noticed something off about the couple’s then-3-year-old daughter Lucy.
The Bransons told NPR that their daughter was coughing and looking generally uncomfortable as she came into their bedroom. That’s when Michael saw them: a matching pair of pink Polly Pocket shoes. Because small children are wildly irrational beings, Lucy had lodged one slipper up each nostril.
Katy and Michael did what any parent in their shoes (too soon for a footwear pun?) would do. They became DIY surgeons with the sole goal of undoing their daughter’s disastrous extracurricular nostril behavior. They gingerly grabbed at the pink slippers with a pair of tweezers. Katy even managed to free one nostril of its plastic prisoner. The other proved a bit more difficult, having been shoved just beyond reach.
At this point, this story likely either strikes you as unfortunately familiar or another thing to add to your ever-growing list of concerns keeping you up at night. Either way, it should serve as a cautionary tale — for your budget, if nothing else. Because after trying in vain to get the other shoe, the Watsons resorted to a much different night out.
First, they took Lucy to their local urgent care, where the on-call doctors didn’t make any more progress than the parents had. So, off to the ER they went. And, finally, success! Using a long set of forceps, the ER doc made light work of removing the remaining plastic shoe (a change of pace, he told them, from the typical Tic Tacs he extracts).
All’s well that ends well, right? Polly Pocket got her pumps back, Lucy can breathe out of her nostrils again, and the Watsons didn’t even hire their sitter in vain. “All in all, it was an eventful evening,” Katy told NPR. “My husband makes it back, we go to the show, my daughter’s fine.”
What was decidedly less fine after the debacle was their bank account. For Lucy’s doll shoe nostril extraction, the couple received a bill from Dignity Health hospital system of $1,732 and a physician’s bill of $926.98, for a total of $2,658.98.
Basically, the Watsons could have gone on vacation for the amount they’re being charged for having a doll shoe pulled out of their daughter’s nose. Or they could, like, buy a small used sedan. Katy could even splurge on a few pairs of not-plastic designer shoes for the price of that one tiny slipper that ended up lodged in her daughter’s nostril.
Per NPR, cost reports submitted to Medicare show that the hospital’s average cost for removing a foreign body from the nose comes to less than 50 bucks. So, what gives? That’s exactly what the Watsons are asking — and why they’re fighting for a detailed explanation of the charges.
“It’s not even so much that we can’t pay that if we absolutely have to,” Katy said. “It doesn’t make sense that it costs that much. A human being needs to look at this and say, ‘Why are we charging $3,000 to take a Barbie shoe out of the kid’s nose?'”