research is a must for medical tourists
By the Medical Vacation in Costa Rica staff
Medical tourists have to be doubly aware when they come to Costa Rica
or any foreign land.
Expectations of the kind of health care security that is the norm back
home may not exist. In Costa Rica, for example, there are few recourses
for a medical job done badly. There is neither malpractice insurance
coverage nor set remedies resulting from an incorrect
poor quality work.
There also are licensed and well known physicians who have more of an
eye for money than the welfare of patient.
The quality for dental work ranges from someone who may or may not have
proper training working out of a garage to a first-class facility in
Escazú where one employee works a full schedule just sterilizing
The patient may be misled by different claims about credentials or
clinic facilities on the Internet. A dentist, for example, may or may
not be a recognized specialist or have taken proper or advanced
training for the treatments he or she is offering.
Foreigners are at a disadvantage finding quality medical providers.
In addition there are what are called medical tourism facilitators, who
are basically salespeople favoring the medical personnel who pay
commissions and sometimes subscription fees. These so-called
facilitators are concerned with supplying their professionals listed
with them. A potential patient may be directed to anyone on this list
and not necessarily the most competent practitioner. The facilitators
will attest to the professionals qualifications and even claim their
fees are the lowest in Costa Rica and a third or less than fees charged
in the United States forcomparable treatments.
Medical VacationCR graphic
Watch out for this guy!
An organization called the Council for the
of Costa Rica Medicine, known as Promed, claims on its Web site that
Costa Rican medical professionals and hospitals are as qualified
those found in the United States and Canada.
In fact, some are and some are not. A recent arrest was of a man
working as a cosmetic surgeon in an established clinic who had no
license and may not even have had medical training. Some of his former
patients appeared on television to show bruises and other damage done
by his techniques.
Fake physicians and bad practice usually only come to light when there
are criminal charges.
One medical tourist wrote reporters to complain about dental work that
cost thousands to repair back home. She was tempted to file a complaint
with law enforcement or the dentist professional organization. That was
until the dentist's lawyer threaten her with a slander suit.
The dental professional organization, called a colegio here, receives
complaints every year from patients about poor quality work and
non-caring practitioners. It is limited in scope regarding discipline,
and other patients will not be alerted to who these dentists are unless
they specifically contact the colegio and ask about that dentist.
There is good sense in thoroughly checking out a medical practitioner
before coming to Costa Rica. The Internet is a good source. But
are no guidelines or confirmation of claims and credentials posted.
Advertising in the English-language newspapers should be consulted.
Editors know who the hacks are.
Those considering medical tourism should contact organizations in which
the professional claims to be a member and visit the colegio Web page
to confirm the status of the professional, according to reputable
medical experts consulted for this article. Be careful of illogical and
unreasonable claims by the professionals or providers, they warn.
As with other big ticket purchases, price should not be a controlling
factor. Only the U.S. federal government is silly enough to accept the
Common sense is also valuable. Some medical conditions require intense
followup. That means either a prolonged stay here or the unlikely
possibility of a physician at home who will do the followup.
The up side of medical tourism is the possibility that the procedure
will cost less than in the States or Canada. That also is not always
the case. The price depends on the provider, and some are paying
thousands in advertising a month to attract patients. Guess who ends up
paying for marketing.