Tijuana surgeon contesting US class action

 

In 2019 the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 2 Travel Alert, Practice Enhanced Precautions, for Americans visiting Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. Tijuana is a border city in Mexico of 1.3 million people, just south of San Diego, California.   

Americans returning from Tijuana were diagnosed with infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. Drug resistant Pseudomonas bacteria do not respond to most commonly available antibiotics, says the CDC. All of the travellers diagnosed with the life-threatening bacteria, carbapenem resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa or CRPA, had undergone invasive medical procedures. Infections caused by this particular drug-resistant Pseudomonas are rare in the USA and difficult to treat. Patients typically require long and complex antibacterial drug combinations and courses to defeat the infection. 

The CDC confirmed 12 cases from seven states, while two others are being investigated. Some have recovered but others are still seriously ill. Most are women in their thirties and forties who had surgery between August and December 2018.

Eight of the infected patients had undergone surgery at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana; the rest had undergone surgery at other hospitals and clinics in the area. Ten of the procedures were weight loss surgery. Many patients booked via medical travel agency Weight Loss Agents of Wilmington, Delaware.

Following information provided by the CDC, the Mexican government temporarily closed the Grand View Hospital. The hospital is a small independent clinic specialising in weight loss surgery and cosmetic surgery that claims to offer patients the best view of Mexico City. But the surgeons are still operating at other hospitals.

CDC recommends that travellers to Tijuana not have surgery at the Grand View Hospital until the Mexican government can confirm that the drug-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria is no longer there. 

The main weight loss surgeon at Grand View Hospital is Mario Almanza, who is contesting a class action from American weight loss surgery patients, including one who died.

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