Be cautious when it comes to medical tourism: AMA (WA)

Be cautious when it comes to medical tourism: AMA (WA)

Friday 9 January 2015


A sharp rise in the number of Australians travelling to South East Asia for surgical procedures is a cause for concern, AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said today.


“Countries like Thailand have some very good surgeons and facilities in place,” Dr Gannon said.


“However reports that tens of thousands of Australians are heading to Thailand every year for elective surgery has us concerned.


“It’s not only cosmetic surgery either – people are going to Asia for dental work or joint replacement surgery.


“These are major procedures that require a period of follow up with the surgeon involved – something which does not occur when one travels to Asia.


“Australia is fortunate in having one of the safest systems in the world when it comes to surgery.


“This is not the case in many countries in South East Asia, where patients rely on a regulatory system that is nowhere near as robust as it is here in Australia.


“This occasionally leads to surgeons in Australia having to rectify botched procedures, which can be extremely costly to the individual, financially and emotionally.


“One common problem we are seeing with cosmetic breast surgery is the immediate complication of infection. This often requires a long inpatient stay in a public hospital at significant cost to the Australian public, usually at least 2 operations and 4-6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics, often treating atypical infections.


“Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. In Australia, you are paying for a hospital that is accredited by the highest standards in the world. You are guaranteed follow up with the surgeon who performed the procedure, who is then able to ensure that 18 months down the line, you have the results you are looking for.


“Australian surgeons will also have an open dialogue with their patients to ensure that the risks of the procedure are discussed. There should be a conversation on why an individual wants the procedure done, not a discussion on the merits of a poolside or beachside villa.


“Body Dysmorphia can lead to unnecessary procedures that do not achieve the desired results someone is looking for – this is a conversation that surgeons must be willing to have, and something that will not be discussed by the companies who are pushing discount medical tourism packages.


“We urge Australians to seriously consider the risks involved in medical tourism. Speak to your GP on whether or not these procedures are worth the risk.” Dr Gannon said.

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