Bariatric surgeons in other countries • Given the virtual impossibility to access timely bariatric care in Canada, it is no wonder that many patients, who can scrape together the money, are heading South of the border or even to exotic destinations like Mexico or India for bariatric surgery. • Knowing that there are plenty of good and experienced bariatric surgeons in other countries, this may not really be a problem - that is, until things go wrong: and then things can very quickly get very ugly.
After effects of Surgery • In a paper just released online in The American Journal of Surgery, Dr. Sharma’s surgical colleagues and he reported on their experience with 10 Albertans, who decided to bypass the long waiting times and ended up running into considerable problems upon their return (you can also read the story in yesterday’s Edmonton Journal). • Not only did they experience significant medical emergencies, but fixing their problems (where possible) ended up costing the public health care system over $160,000, money that could have been better used to provide proper bariatric care to some of the several 1000 patients on our waiting list.
Big Mistake • Again, the problem here is not that there are no good surgeons outside Canada - the problem is that bariatric surgery is far more than about simply finding someone who knows how to operate and fixing a date for the operation. • More importantly, when things occasionally go wrong (as they will even with the most experienced surgeons), you definitely want to have your surgeon and the medical team close to home and not thousands of kilometers away in a foreign country.
Medical Tourism for Bariatric surgery a big - NO • So how common are serious complications from medical tourism for bariatric surgery? As the province does not keep exact tabs on how many people leave the province for surgery, we have no way of knowing. Are the cases we saw 10 out of 100, 10 out of 1000, or even only 10 out of 10,000 - no one knows. • The bottom line is that while medical tourism may work great for some health problems, bariatric surgery is probably not one of them. • If you have any experience with patients, family or friends who have had to travel out of your province or even abroad for bariatric surgery, Dr. Sharma would like to hear the story - the good, the bad, or the ugly!
About Dr. Arya M. Sharma Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD/PhD, FRCPC is Professor of Medicine & Chair for Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He is also the Medical Director of the Edmonton Capital Health Region’s interdisciplinary Weight Wise Program. Dr. Sharma is also the Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network funded through the federal Networks of Centres Excellence program. Dr. Sharma has authored and co-authored more than 250 scientific articles and has lectured widely on the etiology and management of obesity and related cardiovascular disorders. He sends his informative messages through his blog Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes. For more information on Obesity visit; Website: http://www.drsharma.ca/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Arya-Sharma/115328778486319