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Mexico Lap Band
Why have surgery in a country where you won’t drink the water?
Unfortunately some insurance companies will not pay for weight loss surgery. In those cases, a patient is left to finance the cost of surgery through various mechanisms. See the page on lap band cost for more information.
In the past few years, there has been a disturbing trend called “medical tourism.” People are seeking to lower their medical expenses by going to third world countries to have their medical procedures. Americans are lured by low prices and promises of medical care equal to what they would expect from doctors and nurses in the U.S..
It is true that health care costs in the U.S. are higher than in Mexico. However that is not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s is what you should consider when you consider a Lap Band in Mexico instead of the United States.
Mexico Lap Band Facts
Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in the United States have to meet high standards and are accredited by national organizations such as The Joint Commission. Around 16,000 health care facilities in the U.S.A. meet the rigorous requirements of Joint Commission and get re-credentialed every 3 years, but only 8 facilities in all of Mexico have met standards to receive The Joint Commission International accreditation.
If you have surgery in Mexico you have no idea what standards the hospital or surgery center has met, or if they even need to meet standards. Do they have some certificate from some supposed accreditation organization in Mexico that you know nothing about? How do you know that certificate means anything? In most cases you don’t.
Who will take care of you in a foreign country? According to the International Labor Organization, the average salary for a nurse in Mexico is less than $6,500 per year.
In fact there is no guarantee that the person assisting the surgeon in Mexico or taking care of you is a certified Mexican nurse. You might have a lower paid person or a family member of the Mexican surgeon since there are no safeguards in place to protect you.
There have been cases of a person going to Mexico for surgery by an experienced surgeon and then after they have been put to sleep, a junior surgeon comes in to do the case and practice on them.
Hospitals and surgery centers in the U.S. have strict regulations governing almost every aspect of your care. The nurses and physicians must be appropriately certified and licensed by state and federal organizations. You have no idea who will take care of you in Mexico and what their qualifications might be.
If you suffer malpractice in Mexico you have no legal recourse. Not only that, you will not only be out the money you spent on your surgery and travel in the first place, but then you might have to pay a U.S. surgeon to fix the complication from surgery in Mexico. Also, many experienced Lap Band surgeons in the U.S. will not treat complications of Mexico Lap Band surgery, because they do not want to get in a situation of possible legal complications.
Many lap band surgeons in Mexico use patient facilitators. These facilitators are essentially salespeople who work on commission. In the United States it is considered unethical and in fact is illegal for a physician to offer inducement, payments, or commissions to anyone to obtain patient referrals. This is done to ensure that patients can make safe independent decisions regarding their health without having someone try to sway them one way or another for financial benefit. These patient facilitators for Mexico Lap Band surgeons are sometimes former patients who get inducements such as free follow up visits, free lap band fills, and other incentives for each new patient they bring over to Mexico. Since these people get paid for each referral they are often found on message boards on the internet talking about Mexico surgeons and trying to quash any stories from people with negative experiences.
In the United States physicians and hospitals are held under high scrutiny. Any kind of deceit by an American surgeon will eventually come out in the press and lead to significant damages from legal, regulatory, and financial standpoints. However in Mexico there have been reports of the following happening to Lap Band patients:
1. A patient getting a different kind of gastric band than what they expected. There are different types of gastric bands and there are cases of patients thinking they are getting an Allergen Lap Band, but they had a device put in that wasn’t approved by the FDA for use in the U.S
2. There have been reports on the internet of patients getting their surgery done by an assistant surgeon or junior surgeon once they are asleep. The patient thought they would get surgery done by one person but when they woke up they found out it was done by another person who was using them to gain more experience.
3. There have been cases where a person goes to Mexico for gastric band surgery and all they had put in was the port under the skin. They go home thinking they had gastric band surgery but they did not and there is no legal recourse for them.
Old Lap Band system in Mexico
The company that makes the Lap Band, Allergen, came out with their latest generation Lap Band, the Lap Band AP system. It began to be used widespread in the U.S. in the fall of 2008. As of the end of 2009, the company has not allowed the Lap Band AP system, their latest generation model, to be sold in Mexico and if you get an Allergen Lap Band in Mexico it is the older model band that few surgeons in the U.S. use anymore. Their official website had the following disclaimer: “In Mexico, the latest generation FDA-approved LAP-BAND AP ® System is NOT available for use. This advanced performance technology for LAP-BAND ® surgery was approved by the FDA in 2006 for use in the U.S. Surgeons in Mexico offer the older LAP-BAND ® System models, which are called the 9.75 and 10mm, and the VG models. Nearly ALL LAP-BAND ® systems implanted in the U.S. are now the new LAP-BAND AP ® band, as surgeons prefer them significantly.”
Every experienced Lap Band surgeon will agree that aftercare is important for successful weight loss. When you have surgery in Mexico you might have a tough time finding a surgeon in the U.S. who will assume your care. Because of the legal liability, many U.S. lap band doctors will not assume care of someone who had surgery in Mexico because they simply don’t know what took place at the time of surgery or what complications may arise from surgery in Mexico. Without proper follow up and aftercare, weight loss results with the Lap Band may not be ideal.
If you are considering going to Mexico for gastric band surgery, you should talk to your local U.S. lap band surgeon about options available for you. Don’t gamble on your health. Now you know more about Ohio lap band surgery failure!
May 30 2010 04:32 pm | Uncategorized