Posts Tagged ‘health’

I’m back in Cartagena, where it all started.. I’ll be here for a while, taking in more of the local culture and reacquainting myself with the city.

cartagena 008

Unlike my previous visits – I am going to spend a little time outside of the operating room.

If you haven’t been to the site in a while – you’ll notice, neither have I.  Having a separate Cartagena page was becoming overwhelming, so I have been transitioning it all to a sister site, latinamericansurgery.com.

However, the sites aren’t completely similar.  I admit, we don’t have as many lively debates and outside contributions as before.   I also miss the opportunity to write about a wider range of topics outside of medical tourism but I am still trying to build my audience and I was worried that my site was actually a little too diverse to offer helpful information.  Much of it was scattered over multiple sections.  So you’ll notice that Latin American Surgery is a little more organized – though the volume of pages makes precise organization difficult.

I miss the dialogues we often had here at Cartagena Surgery.  We would often get great feedback from other health care providers, researchers and experts in the field.  It was a lot of fun, and I hope that more experts will start to write in on cardiovascular and other health topics.  In the meantime, I will just keep traveling, learning, working and writing.

I also continue to write about various health care topics over at Examiner.com so if you can’t find it here –  try searching the archives over at the Examiner.


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No, researchers aren’t suggesting that entire families undergo bariatric surgery.  But a new study by Woodward, Encarnacion, Peraza, Hernandez – Boussard & Morton (2011) published last month suggests that when one family member underwent bariatric surgery – the rest of the family reaped benefits as well.

As explained in this article by Kristina Fiore at Medpage – there is a family-wide health benefit after bariatric surgery.  After one family member had surgery, other adult members in the family tended to modify their eating habits as well, and subsequently lost weight.  While this study was small, with just 35 families – it shows the huge impact that sociological factors (such as family dietary practices/ habits) have on obesity and health.

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Why Colombia for medical tourism/ surgical tourism?

Here are several of the reasons I have decided to focus on Colombia as one the emerging destinations for medical tourism:

1. It’s close to the United States (and North America): direct flights to several cities in Colombia are only 2 – 3 hours from Miami, Orlando and many other southern US cities.
This should be first and foremost in people’s minds – for more than just consumer comfort. Those coach-class seats can kill.
The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a potentially fatal complication of air travel (and other stationary conditions) is very real; and this risk increases dramatically with flight duration. Flights to Asia can be anywhere from 16 to 20 hours – which is an endurance test for even the healthiest and heartiest of individuals.

This risk for DVT/ VTE which can lead to pulmonary embolism, and death is enhanced in elderly people, people with chronic diseases (diabetes, lung diseases, etc.), obesity and people who have recently had surgery.   Some data suggests this enhanced post-surgical risk may persist for up to 12 weeks. While there are treatments to prevent thromboembolism or blood clots, none of these strategies are fool-proof. (Some of these safety strategies for air travel are mentioned in the above attached links).

Proximity – Close to the USA/ North America:
-Cheaper flights (all the flights to Asia are in the thousands – and you shouldn’t be travelling alone)
– Shorter flight duration (safer, more comfortable)

2. Cost:
This includes medical travel costs as briefly mentioned above. Most cities in Colombia are relatively affordable for other travel accommodations (though this is sometimes included if medical tourism packages/ planning are used.) This is in addition to the known cost-savings of medical care outside of the United States, which is the main reason behind the popularity of medical tourism. For example, a recent CT scan at a local hospital cost around $250.00, versus several thousand.

For actual surgical procedures, the savings are much greater. Heart surgery in the USA ranges from $80,000 – 180,000.. of course, if you have good insurance – your costs are much lower.. If, of course, you have good insurance – and insurance doesn’t cover everything!
In Colombia, heart surgery costs around $12,000 – and most cardiac programs  (and other surgeons/ hospitals) here accept American insurance – so your 20% co-pay is going to be a lot more reasonable..

3. Similar culture, similar values, similar ideals – yes, the language is different (but many people and providers speak English) but the underlying primary core values, and core medical values are the same. This means, that while the US medical system is plagued with problems – some of these problems are related to our values such as the sanctity of life, and the preciousness of life.. That value is shared here – which is important – since that is not the case in many places – even western europe where medicine, surgery and expensive treatments are rationed, and sometimes denied – particularly to people over the age of 65.

Medical providers, nurses, and staff here care about their patients the same way, we do at home.. And arguably, in most cases, the doctor- patient relationship is a lot closer, and more personal here. Doctors want and expect patients to contact them – they give patients their email and cell phone numbers on their business cards, for just that reason, and they aren’t put out or annoyed if you use it.. (I know, I’ve been with doctors when patients call.)

4. Surgical proficiency, medical education, and available resources – this is the primarily reason I am currently here in Bogota, Colombia; the high level of skill and training among surgeons in Colombia. These doctors are professionals in the highest sense of the word, and have attended well-known, well-respected and accredited institutions. In many cases, these surgeons are at the forefront of emerging technologies, that are just now becoming popular in the USA.
As far as medical technology goes – many of the doctors, and hospitals I visited have the latest technology, which rivals if not beats what I’ve seen in the US. (Now, for those of you who have never stepped inside a rural hospital in the United States – you would be surprised at what resources they do and DON’T have.) Americans in general, and American medical professionals tend to view the world from this little bubble, thinking that we always have the latest and greatest – even when we know it’s not always true. It may have been true twenty years ago, but sadly, it’s not always true now.

Come back for part two – and we’ll discuss Why not India, why not Thailand.. (but in the meantime, here’s some food for thought)

* Antibiotic resistant infections of any sort (MRSA, VRE) are still fairly rare in Colombia.
Superbug Hits UK from Medical Tourism from India

Indian Resistant Bacteria from Medical Tourism

More articles/ links on SuperBug

Of course, to be fair, our own food supply contributes to this problem too..

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Hidden Gem: The unvarnished truth!

Guide to Surgical Tourism in Cartagena, Colombia

Welcome to everyone who came here after reading about the book in print ads!  This is the book page for Hidden Gem, a new guide book for surgical tourism.  As an independent writer, who is unsupported by large book publishing companies, medical tourism agencies or other large agenda driven corporations – National advertisement and fancy ad campaigns are out of reach.

Don’t be fooled by the lack of hype or flash.  This book has substance, and unvarnished truth.  There are no ads in my book. I didn’t sell space/ pages, or ratings to any company for financial backing, or help selling my book.  I didn’t ask for, expect or receive any favors, freebies, gifts or money from any of the people or places I interviewed for this book. That makes me different from most of the guide books out there! 

 The majority of guide books, especially the large ones, make money by selling ad space/ or featured property space in their books.  The triple AAA star ratings that hotels and restaurants have?  Well, they bought and paid for the ‘priviledge’ of having AAA include them in their books..

This book is also unique because it’s written by a healthcare provider, for consumers. It’s written in everyday language that doesn’t require readers to be doctors or medical personnel to understand.

As a practicing health care provider, I also know that the best health care is unrelated to flashy, expensive ad campaigns, marble floors in hospital lobbies, or gourmet catered meals in private suites.  Marble floors are elegant; catered meals are nice but they won’t improve your health, or prevent you from catching a hospital-acquired infection.  (Though the psychology of marble floors does suggest cleanliness; in reality the general sanitation of a facility is a much more rigorous process that takes place out of the public eye.

With that introduction; let me welcome readers again to my website.  Have a look around, and if this product interests you, click on one of the links on this site, or request it at your local bookstore..


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I’d like to welcome all my long time readers to my new Amazon.com Author’s page.  I have added this blog to my Amazon page, so viewers to either page will be able to keep up with book news, and events.

Hidden Gem: Best book ever written!

Guide to Surgical Tourism in Cartagena, Colombia

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So I have gotten a lot of really great comments, and compliments from readers of my book.  The biggest criticism has been the lack of advertisement  – that potentially interested readers just aren’t hearing about my book..

So I have taken out an ad in the Miami Herald for August 8, 2010, as well as a Google ad, and Facebook ad.  So let me know if you found this page through my advertisements.

Surgery made Safe

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