Medical tourism has progressed by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Given the increasing number of patients traveling overseas for medical and surgical care from the US, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has recognized that surgical care has become more readily available in a wider global market, and that it is here to stay. So, the College recently developed an official "Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism", which according to ACS is "consistent with the College’s longstanding advocacy position of promoting an environment of optimal care for the surgical patient".
The College has developed several key principles (listed below) for those who choose to seek surgical care abroad. The College:
- encourages patients to seek care of the highest quality and supports their rights to select their surgeons and health care institutions without restriction.
- encourages its Fellows to assist all patients in reaching informed decisions concerning medical care, whether at home or abroad.
- advises patients to consider the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of seeking medical treatment abroad prior to deciding on a venue of care.
- encourages patients electing to receive treatment abroad to seek care at health care institutions that have met the standards for accreditation established by recognized accrediting organizations.
- encourages patients electing treatment abroad to seek care from surgeons and anesthesiologists certified in their specialties through a process equivalent to that established by the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
- encourages patients receiving treatment abroad to obtain a complete set of medical records prior to returning home so that the details of their care are immediately available to their physicians and surgeons in the U.S. Follow-up care at home should be organized prior to travel whenever possible.
- encourages patients contemplating medical tourism to understand the special risks of combining long international flights and certain vacation activities with anesthesia and surgical procedures.
- opposes the imposition of provisions for mandatory referral of patients by insurers to health care institutions outside the U.S., unless such provisions are clearly and explicitly stated in the insurance contract and accepted by the subscriber.
- supports the view that payors referring patients for mandatory treatment abroad should be responsible for the coordination and reimbursement of follow-up care in the U.S., including the management of postoperative complications, readmissions, rehabilitation, and long-term care.
Source: Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism by ACS
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