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This mom is fighting to end outrageous ER bills – and she's an ER doctor

“You shouldn’t be scared of having to go to the ER if you need it,” said Dr. Carrie de Moor.

DALLAS — What happens when the child of someone who is not only an emergency room doctor, but also but an emergency room owner, has a medical emergency? The same thing that happens in most families.

“I’m panicked. I’m a mom first and I’m scared for my baby,” said Dr. Carrie de Moor, CEO and founder of Code 3. Code 3 is a North Texas-based chain of freestanding emergency room and urgent care facilities.

De Moor made history last summer when Code 3 opened an ER at DFW Airport. It was the first ER on any airport property in the U.S.

In January, de Moor’s 12-year-old son Christian developed a sudden pain in his abdomen.

“He woke me up and said, ‘Mom, something’s really wrong,’” de Moor said. Her gut reaction was to question whether a trip to the ER was necessary.

“I still have to pay my monthly premiums, deductible, copay," she said. "So, are we really going to go and spend this money, time and resources, just because it turns out being indigestion?”

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Her expertise kicked in and they did go. Christian had emergency surgery. And days later, as de Moor began to reflect, she fired off a Facebook post.

“If I had called my insurance company to ask what I should do, I am 100% certain they would have told me to go to an urgent care (which by the way I own some) or alternatively wanted me to decide if he had gas or appendicitis…shame on them,” she wrote.

de Moor said she hates that the potential cost of care keeps people from seeking care. She and her colleagues make regular trips to Austin to lobby the state to protect what’s known as the prudent layperson standard.

That standard means if a patient thinks something is an emergency, then insurance must cover emergency testing, no matter if it turns out to be gas instead of appendicitis.

“It’s not that the final diagnosis is what means it was an emergency," de Moor said. "It is — are you afraid something is wrong with your child, your loved one, yourself? Then you let us, the professionals, figure that out. That’s what I’m very passionate about. You shouldn’t have to worry about making the wrong call.”

de Moor and her partner, Dr. Paul Kivela, were recently honored by DFW Airport for saving the life of a woman who collapsed suddenly inside a terminal. “Emergency services really are an essential public service that everyone should be entitled to,” Kivela said.

Christian, de Moor’s son, is healed and was recently released to play baseball again. “I was grateful because it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

While he is fine, his mother remains fired up. She says she won’t stop advocating for more access and less fear.

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