23.02.2024

Woman given ibuprofen after breaking back on holiday forced to pay £30,000 for surgery

The family of a British woman are facing a £30,000 bill after their daughter was seriously injured in Central America. Amie Coltman, 24, was travelling in a tuk-tuk while on holiday in Nicaragua when she was thrown into the road and crushed her spine.

Despite the vehicle being a commonly used mode of transport, her insurance company refused to pay her mounting medical bills following the accident earlier this month.

Adding to her ordeal, when Ms Coltman was rushed to a medical clinic she says she was only given painkillers by a local doctor despite breaking her back in two places.

Speaking to The Independent, her sister Zoe said Ms Coltman had travelled to Costa Rica to work with an animal conservation volunteer group for seven weeks, having studied the topic for her Masters at Nottingham Trent University.

At the conclusion of the course, she travelled with an organised guided group down to Nicaragua. During the evening of 19 August, she and a group of others travelled into the nearby village before travelling back in a pick-up style vehicle.

“They were in the taxi which hit a pothole at some speed so everyone went flying out of the back,” her sister said. “One of Amie’s friends landed on top of her which crushed part of her spine and left her in a lot of pain and shock.”

Upon realising the severity of the situation, she was rushed to a local clinic which was not equipped with an MRI machine or a CT scan. Despite receiving an X-ray, a doctor informed her she was “absolutely fine” and provided her with only ibuprofen and paracetamol before she was discharged.

Her condition worsened overnight and the tour guide company decided to transport her to Clinica Biblica in Costa Rica.

A second X-ray revealed that she had broken her spine, with the doctors informing her that she would need immediate surgery but it would cost £15,000.

She would also be charged £1,000 for each night she remained at the hospital, as well as payments for the surgery equipment and four weeks of physiotherapy.

“Thirty thousand pounds was the full amount they needed straight away,” her sister said/ “They needed it upfront, they wouldn’t do the surgery without the money. The insurance company rang the hospital straight away and said we’re having nothing to do with this. They said that the car wasn’t safe as it had no seatbelts.

“When that’s the only mode of transport available, you just don’t think that you’re not going to be covered.”

With the hospital demanding the money, Ms Coltman’s family turned to relatives and friends and managed to pull together £17,000 for the first payment. After confirming they had the funds, her mother was sent an email instructing that she make the payment within 20 minutes.

“For the first two days, there were a lot of phone calls with Amie crying, worried, scared,not knowing what to do or knowing how bad it was,” Zoe said. “She was quite pressured at times into making decisions when she didn’t know what to do.”

Ms Coltman has since undergone the surgery and two metal rods have been placed in her back to support her spine, with her father joining her in Costa Rica to assist in the coming weeks.

Her family have now launched a GoFundMe to cover her treatment and the additional expenses she’ll accrue while undergoing rehabilitation.

“I just don’t understand how anyone is meant to afford these medical fees at such short notice,” Zoe said. “The massive support from everyone has been amazing, it is crazy how people pull through at these times especially during the cost of living crisis.”

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