Splinter in Toe Becomes $3,700 Thorn in Florida Man’s Side

From Associated Press

The next time Jack McElhinney gets a splinter, he plans to take care of it himself. The last one has cost more than $3,700 to remove.

The 57-year-old retired real estate broker had pulled most of the splinter out of his big toe and was able to jog and play tennis, but the sliver annoyed him.

He went to his doctor, who X-rayed the toe and referred him to a surgeon, who sent him to another physician. When the toe became infected, the doctor said McElhinney would have to go to the hospital to get the splinter removed.

McElhinney thought it would be a simple procedure. Then a clerk called and asked whether he had a will and had signed an organ donor card.


“In retrospect, that’s the point at which I should have realized things had gotten out of control,” McElhinney told the Tampa Tribune.

He underwent tests and the surgery was done under local anesthesia May 31. The splinter--about half an inch long and extremely thin--was removed.

The hospital bill was $3,177.11. The pathologists asked for $197.35. The anesthesiologists billed him $400.

“I haven’t even gotten the surgeon’s bill yet. They’ll probably deliver that in a Brink’s truck,” McElhinney said.


His insurer paid $1,906.27 of the $3,177.11 bill. He is supposed to pay $476, and the rest will be waived.

McElhinney said he and his neighbors have a solution for the next splinter.

“We’ve invested in a fancy first-aid kit,” he said. “We’ll do the surgery ourselves.”