Patient Safety & Medical Tourism

I’ve posted a link to an article talking about patient safety, and facility/ physician oversight in foreign medical facilities for patients seeking medical tourism options.

This is the rationale and purpose behind the both the Cartagena and the upcoming Bogotá books – that as an independent, unbiased reviewer and health care professional; I am able to observe, interview and evaluate facilities, surgeons and procedures for safety issues (and adherence to accepted national and international standards / protocols.)

This eliminates the uncertainty for patients seeking medical tourism; is the facility clean?  Are the physicians licensed?  Are the procedures performed according to accepted practices?

As a reputable, practicing health care provider with no secondary gain (other than book sales), patients can find a trustworthy source for this information.   I don’t work for the surgeons, the medical tourism companies or the governments of the host countries.  I don’t make a dime from these medical procedures – and have no vested interest in where patients ultimately seek care.

But, the development of infections, post-operative complications or other problems with medical tourism is bad for business (for the providers and facilities reviewed) so these facilities had a vested interest in letting me into their hospitals and their operating rooms.  They wanted me to see what they had to offer – particularly the facilities that are doing everything right..

(The facilities that weren’t following accepted practices invited me in, as well.  I think because they assumed that an American nurse wouldn’t know any better.)  That’s their oversight, and to your benefit – because I was able to observe and report my findings to you, my readers.

I think this is going to become a more popular and frequent practice – but hopefully the reviewers are going to be people like me; people familiar with the procedures and practices, and the operating room.  This is another separate issue – that has already reared its head.  There are several medical tourism books out there, including books that have made millions of dollars, written by arm-chair MBAs who looked at published statistics (only) and used this as the basis of their reports.. As everyone knows, published statistics are only part of the story, and can certainly be manipulated.

Physically viewing the facilities, talking to the surgeons and watching the procedures are the real test of how things function on a daily basis, and what care a patient should expect.

Friday, I am heading to Reston, Virginia to interview one of the people involved with the new Colsanitas medical tourism venture that we discussed in a previous post.  I’ve already been to the hospitals in Colombia (Clinica Colombia and Reina Sofia) and I’ve interviewed the surgeons involved, so I know the quality and care provided by the facilities involved.  But do they?  What rigor has this company performed to protect potential patients (and consumers of their services)?  In this case, I know that both the hospitals and the surgeons are excellent, but do they?  And how do they know this?   I’ll try to get answers to all of these questions and post them here for readers.