True North Blog

Snakebite – Treatment Costs How Much?!

If you are ever unlucky enough to be bitten by a venomous snake, don’t panic and assume that you are going to die, because the chances are, despite common belief, you won’t.  In the United States, there are roughly 45,000 snakebites reported each year, of which 8,000 are confirmed venomous.  Of this, only about 8 people die, usually due to some complicating factor — the victim was likely very old, very young, or suffered from an underlying medical condition.  What, instead, is the greater likelihood, which most don’t seem to appreciate, is that the snakebite will cause you a major life altering change.  In particular, amputation of the bitten limb.  And a catastrophic medical bill.

Ben SmithJust ask 11-year old, Benjamin Smith, who, as the Gainesville Sun reported, was bitten last month by an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.

Thankfully, Ben will be just fine thanks to the excellent medical care that he received during a two week stay in a Level One Trauma Center, wherein he was administered 80 vials of antivenin.  Apparently, this is a record amount.

What was the final invoice from the hospital?  About $1.6 million dollars.

Yup, you are reading correctly … $1.6 million dollars.

The primary treatment for a pit viper bite involves antivenin and the only one that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is CroFab, produced by BTG International.  While a vial of CroFab costs a hospital only about $2,200 each, when all the other related costs are factored in — like staff, tests, related medical procedures, and helicopter transport, among many others — the real cost to the patient is almost 10 times that amount.

It seems, then, that the snake isn’t the only one who bites.

So before you next head out to the Great Outdoors to hike, rock climb, or hunt, you may want to make sure that you have health insurance.


Do you know what the proper first aid is for a venomous snakebite? If the answer is no, then consider enrolling in a Wilderness First Aid certification course at True North.  Unlike most other programs, our WFA courses are taught by experienced professionals with real wilderness experience.  They are also designed to be easy on your pocketbook and your busy schedule.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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