US Surgeons association offers advice on medical tourism

 

The number of patients seeking medical and surgical care overseas has grown in recent years, prompting the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to study the issue and to develop an official “Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism.” The ACS statement was developed with the patient’s interests in mind, and also offers guidelines for employers, agencies and insurers.

Doctor James Unti of the ACS Nora Institute for Surgical Patient Safety says, “It is important that individuals considering health care services outside the US become informed of the potential risks and complications as well as the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of receiving such care.”

For those who chose to seek surgical care abroad, the ACS encourages patients to:

* Seek care of the highest quality.
* Select health care institutions that have met accreditation standards established by Joint Commission International, Trent International Accreditation Scheme, or a similar internationally recognized accrediting body. They should be aware that accreditation standards are not uniform and that standards set locally can vary from place to place around the world.
* Seek care from surgeons and anaesthesiologists certified in their respective specialties through a process equivalent to that recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialities in the United States.
* Prior to travel, make specific arrangements for continuity of care and follow-up care at home.
* Obtain a complete set of medical records prior to returning home so that the details of their care are immediately available to their physicians and surgeons in the U.S.
* Understand the special risks of combining long international flights and certain vacation activities with anaesthesia and surgical procedures.
* Consider the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of seeking medical treatment abroad prior to deciding on a venue of care.

The ACS also
* Supports their rights to select their surgeons and health care institutions without restriction.
* Encourages its Fellows to assist all patients in reaching informed decisions concerning medical care, whether at home or abroad.
* In the event of proven medical liability for injury, viable means for the recovery of damages should be in place.
* Patients should be aware that many of the means for legal recourse available to citizens in the US are not universally accessible in other countries.
* Opposes the imposition of provisions for mandatory referral of patients by insurers to health care institutions outside the US
, unless such provisions are clearly and explicitly stated in the insurance contract and accepted by the subscriber.
* Opposes the addition of provisions for mandatory referral abroad for patients with insurance contracts already in force, unless there is a fully informed consent from the patient.
*  Supports the view that employers or insurers referring patients for mandatory treatment abroad should be responsible for the coordination and reimbursement of follow-up care in the US, including the management of postoperative complications, readmissions, rehabilitation, and long-term care.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons with more than 74,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

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