In a recent decision, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, LLC v. Burkhead, the Alaska Supreme Court held that a patient could not assign their personal injury claim for recovery of her medical expenses to her health-care provider.
In Burkhead, a patient received medical services at a hospital after an automobile accident. During her treatment, she signed two “Consent: Authorization, Assignment, and Acknowledgment” forms in which she ostensibly assigned to the hospital “all rights to or claims for payment against third parties” for the reasonable value of medical services rendered. The hospital subsequently attempted to intervene in the patient’s personal injury lawsuit and filed its own suit against the tortfeasor. In both cases, the hospital sought to recover the expenses it incurred in treating the patient from the tortfeasor directly and pursuant to the patient’s purported assignment.
The Alaska Supreme Court held that the patient’s purported assignment of her personal injury claim to the hospital was not valid. The court explained that