U.S. doctors warn about the dangers of cheap surgeries in foreign countries
June 17, 2007 – Posted at 12:00 a.m.
BY GABE SEMENZA – VICTORIA ADVOCATE
A waiter hand-delivered a menu to Sally Pierce’s seventh-floor suite in Mumbai, India. She ordered curry and lamb, closed the door and limped across a marble floor to the window, where sun flooded her spacious room and a view of the exotic palm trees below dotted the groomed landscape.
Pierce, who lives 40 miles east of Victoria, stayed in the Emerald Suite, where greens flow from the palms to the room’s jade walls.
But the 61-year-old Blessing woman wasn’t in India to sightsee. She was there in May to have hip-replacement surgery, joining a growing number of Americans, forced by rising health care costs, to seek treatment in third-world countries such as India and elsewhere.
By seeking treatment abroad, Pierce saved about $30,000.
…An estimated 500,000 Americans sought medical treatment abroad last year.
The American Medical Association, in a report released June 8, said steps are being taken to evaluate international health care quality standards.
“America’s health care system has failed many of our citizens, in particular the 46 million uninsured,” the report notes…
For her trip, Pierce paid $10,000 – $7,000 for hospital and doctor fees, tests, food and a two-week stay for two in a private hospital suite. She paid $3,000 for two roundtrip airline tickets for her and a companion.
…The same surgery in South Texas would have cost$40,000, Pierce was told…
…Dr. Kaushal Malhan is the Indian doctor who operated on Pierce. He frequently lectures to North American doctors.
Malhan, trained in England, operated on Pierce in India’s Wockhardt Hospital, an associate hospital of Harvard Medical International, the global arm of the acclaimed Harvard Medical School.
“As more and more patients look overseas for medical treatment it is more important today than ever that you choose your surgeon carefully,” Malhan said. “There are risks involved in any surgical procedure, whether it’s at home or overseas. We do not compromise on anything. The same implants and surgical materials, which are used abroad, are used here in India.”
Malhan said he operates on 100 to 150 patients a year who travel to India for his care…