US medical tourist dies after treatment


A medical tourist from Utah, USA has died after undergoing weight-loss surgery in Tijuana, Mexico. After the surgery, the patient tested positive for an antibiotic-resistant form of bacteria, according to the Utah Department of Health. The person was the eighth US medical traveller from Utah to contract the bacteria from a similar surgical procedure in Mexico in 2018, but the first to die. The department has warned people against going to Tijuana for weight loss surgery.

Utah state health officials have discovered that seven of the eight Utahns who got the bacteria in Tijuana had surgery performed by Dr Mario Almanza. Five of them learned about Almanza through medical tourism agency Weight Loss Agents. 

Weight Loss Agents is a trading name of Medical Tourism Agency LLC of Wilmington in Delaware. Despite the problems, in July 2019 the agency still listed Dr Mario Almanza as a surgeon offering weight loss surgery. On American consumer website, Complaints Board, a complaint about Almanza from a US surgery professor about lack of aftercare for a Californian patient is met with a strong negative reaction from Weight Loss Agents.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found other cases nationwide of American patients of Almanza and other Tijuana surgeons who  caught the disease after surgery at Grand View Hospital.

CDC says; "In late 2018, CDC identified an outbreak of infections in people who had surgery at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico. This outbreak appears to be over. Mexican health officials (Baja California, Mexico, Public Health Services Sanitary Control Section) identified poor infection control practices at the hospital, including failure to follow recommended practices for assuring the quality of sterilization of medical devices and instruments. These practices put patients at risk for infections. CDC recommends that patients who had surgery at Grand View Hospital between August 1, 2018 and January 30, 2019, talk to their healthcare provider about getting tested for the bloodborne pathogens hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), even though the risk for developing one of these infections is low. Individuals who had surgery at Grand View Hospital before August 2018 or after January 30, 2019, or had surgery at another hospital in Tijuana and are concerned about bacterial or bloodborne pathogen infection should talk to their healthcare provider:"

The bacteria pseudomonas aeruginosa can be spread on the hands of hospital workers or by contaminated, unclean equipment. Patients recovering from surgical wounds can be most at-risk of developing serious infections from the bacteria.

Dr Allyn Nakashima of the Utah Department of Health warns: "I cannot stress enough the safest course of action is not to travel to Mexico for these procedures. Using an internationally accredited facility is not a guarantee that your medical care will be free of complications. We cannot provide any assurances of patient safety or quality of care to individuals who are considering undergoing such procedures in Tijuana." 



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