Does the hospital have any of the following designations and accreditations
When a hospital has achieved an accreditation, every area of safety and quality is measured to the highest possible standard. This translates into a constantly improving organization that leads to safer interventions and better outcomes. Third party accreditations and quality designations are much more effective ways of determining the truths in claims, credentials, safety, and results than unverified self promotion..
The Surgical Review Corporation designates Bariatric Surgery Organizations with the distinction "Centers of Excellence in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery" when the facility, its corresponding practice and their doctors offer a long term follow up program. Their is overwhelming evidence of the positive effect of followup over the bariatric surgery patient's well being and long term outcome. The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery agrees with the leading weight loss surgery experts, that bariatric surgery is a major event in the patients weight loss journey. Obesity is a lifelong disease and there is no operation, diet or medication that can by itself offer a permanent cure. Surgery with good aftercare and moderate lifestyle changes can give wonderful long-term results for health and weight. Long term follow-up is required ideally for a 5 year period by many accreditation organizations and an established database or registry is mandatory for those surgeons who desire the distinction of Surgeon or Center of Excellence.
A structured follow-up program is more than a simple call or email after the date of surgery. Apart from the simple medical follow up pertaining to the surgery itself, a vast number of other areas should be monitored with regular intervals. Nutrition and supplementation is high on the list and is considered a life long commitment as weight loss surgery interferes with absorption of nutrients and should be closely monitored. Tracking weight loss, body fat loss, lean mass and other parameters are key to determining a progression towards ideal health and includes any change or resolution in co-morbidities and metabolic disease. A support system is also essential for good outcomes and is usually composed of regular meetings and/or online support groups.
A 5 year follow up program is usually recommended by the leading authorities in bariatric and metabolic surgery around the world. Weight loss and early resolution of comorbidities are closely monitored, but can relapse and weight regain can happen after several years. Thus, making it mandatory to follow patients at least 5 years to consider the weight loss semi-permanent. A structured program with early intervention can help correct issues that would otherwise result in failure, weight regain and potentially return of co-morbid state.
Does the hospital practice offer a complication and re-operation policy in writing?
Weight loss surgery is not without its set of accompanied risks. The only way to insure a good outcome is to select a reputable center with all the necessary accreditations that offers a structured long term follow up program to their patients. A center that offers a weight loss procedure should also offer a reoperation and complication policy in writing. Health Tourism center usually will offer an all inclusive price. This should extend to any associated complication even re-operation and should clearly state when this is not covered.
Does the hospital offer proof that the equipment, devices and implantable products have been legally purchased and are not black market or imports not FDA approved?
One of the biggest concerns of Health Tourism is that many centers offering weight loss surgery are in it solely for the financial gain aspect. leaving quality, patient safety and wellbeing simply to chance. It is surprising that the vast majority of centers compete not with quality but with with price. This in turn requires the facility to cut corners. A common practice is reusing disposable medical devices and even worse the use of black market, outdated or asian knockoffs. It is well documented that the use of these devices has led frequently to gastric and intestinal leaks and tragically the patient's death. When the price is too good to be true, it usually is. In fact when reputable centers purchases these medical devices through the normal channels at a normal market price, the cost of these devices alone is usually higher than the fee being charged by these cut rate centers. How do these centers compete with price? They cut corners everywhere they can, including, sterilization, medical devices, staff training and expertise, outdated medications and anesthetics to name a few. Don't be a victim to their online sales pitch. When seeking a better price why run the risk of going with the cheapest outfit. Do your research, and help others do the same.
Data reporting is essential in understanding the impact that a procedure has over a patient over a period of time. When you pool this information together you can detect trends and outcomes. This data is also used to measure the quality and safety of the program. When the results are less than ideal, action is taken to immediately correct the problem and avoid the patient from experiencing a negative outcome. It is well known that Health Tourism surgery centers offer surgery and nothing else. This means that the patient undergoing surgery at a questionable center may lack the quality and safety experience as continuing improvement and quality outcomes are not measured. The Joint Commission International, is a third party organization that essentially requires the hospital to constantly measure, analyze and improve every aspect of the patient's safety, overall experience and long term outcome.
Do any of these answers apply to the hospital practice?
The main driver of health tourism is simply cost. Weight loss surgery can be up to third less abroad. Costs associated to healthcare are much less expensive in foreign countries like Mexico, while quality can be very similar to that of reputable centers in your own country. The key is to detect the cheap centers offering cut rate deals as a method of luring in unsuspecting victims who then fall prey to their unethical practices, and much worse, could potentially suffer a complication due to their lack of quality, safety, and commitment to the patient's well being. Don't become a statistic! Patients in the market for weight loss surgery are known to do their research primarily on the internet. Though the internet is convenient and can be a good source of information, It is well known that in many countries it is poorly regulated. This can also pertain to the websites associated to health tourism. It is easy to understand that more often than not, facilities offering health tourism services are motivated by financial gain. As true as that may be, the priority of such organizations should always be quality and safety. The American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery warns the traveling of patients to centers offering cut rate deals and exaggerated results. While they simultaneously downplaying the true prevalence of complications and deaths. Most health tourism destinations offering weight loss surgery usually are run by brokers that have set up a website to offer the cheapest possible surgery and compete with the other centers. The way they can offer these unbelievable prices is by finding a surgical team willing to work for absurd wages. Through their actions it is evident that these surgical teams have little or no respect for themselves and their profession. Much less for the patients they are treating. These teams are composed by opportunistic physicians who were unable to achieve success, and in turn work for meager wages. It is not unusual to find that these physicians may have a license but no board certification. With that we can conclude that not only do they not have specialized training in the field, they do not study and stay up to date with the latest medical practices. Thankfully, the Mexican government has caught on to this issue and has published a statement saying that though there are thousands of surgeons offering weight loss surgery, only 88 are actually licensed in all of Mexico. This means that over 95% of the surgeons are working without a professional license and are not qualified to perform weight loss surgery.