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Complications of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism occurs for the most part due to economic considerations.  Patients are not seeking out the best care but rather the cheapest option. Some of the patients travel to recover in island paradises or the promise of that.  The Dominican Republic has taken a lot of criticism about its medical tourism industry. The CDC has stated in the past that

“Most health care facilities catering to medical tourists in the Dominican Republic have not met the standards required by international accreditation organizations. Outbreaks of health care–associated infections, medical malpractice, and even deaths have been reported among foreign visitors traveling to the Dominican Republic for medical tourism. People considering traveling to the Dominican Republic for medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery or dental care, should consult with a health care provider before travel and consider whether foreign health care providers meet quality standards of care.”

Though very poor outcomes have occurred in multiple instances, it is a bit more difficult to assess the relative percentages due to not knowing the total number of procedures.  Nonetheless, some prominent universities have researched patients morbidities, infections, and complications in several studies.

2018 report from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School and Boston University of Public Health reported that the DR was the most likely country for Americans to suffer complications.

A 2019 study from the University of Texas Medical Branch looked at cases of post-surgery infections over a 14-year period and found that nearly half of them were from DR.

In 2016, US health officials issued a warning about medical tourism after 18 women were infected by mycobacteria after undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures in the DR.

There are many countries to which patients travel for surgery.  Sometimes, the patient is traveling for the best surgeon at any cost.  Sometimes, the patient is traveling for the best price. Education is always important in making the decision, but ultimately the decision of where to have cosmetic surgery is the patient’s decision to make.