Surgeon Offered to Pierce a Girl's Ears. Then Came the Bill

"Overuse" may seem like a benign word, and that's kind of the problem. 

In its latest piece on health care waste, ProPublica defines overuse as an umbrella term for a type of waste that includes things like unnecessary tests or surgeries. And it kicks things off with an extreme example: that of Margaret O'Neill, whose 5-year-old was scheduled for an outpatient procedure at Children's Hospital Colorado that involved snipping a band of tissue under her tongue. 

The surgeon suggested that, as a treat, the girl's ears be pierced while she was under. O'Neill agreed, expecting it to be a sweet freebie. Then came the bill: $1,877.86 for "operating room services" tied to the piercing. She fought the bill, which insurance wouldn't cover, and ultimately prevailed. (The kicker: One hole was askew, so it was repierced at the mall for $30.)

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