Passage to India

  • by: |
  • 12/04/2006
Interesting/disturbing article in Sunday's edition of the Washington Times on the growing trend of "medical tourism" -- Americans traveling abroad for surgeries. And this doesn't mean spending a relaxing week in Paris. Hardly. It's more likely a trek to India or Thailand.

Joshua Goldberg, 23, a California man who went to Thailand to be ordained as a Buddhist monk, died at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok after being bitten by a snake. Reports indicated Mr. Goldberg was "simultaneously administered ... six contraindicated and lethal medications," despite warnings to doctors from his father about his allergies to certain drugs.

But our pal Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University, has not heard "one horror story" involving a medical tourist.

Well ignorance is no excuse. Nor is naivete. According to Uwe, "A lot of surgery is just plumbing that requires skill. Given circumstances today, it's much harder to run a hospital in Los Angeles than in India. And while things could go wrong in a hospital in India or another Asian country, they would probably turn out just as well there as here."

Doesn't that make you all warm and fuzzy?

A better, wiser, safer, more practical, and less expensive alternative is to strive to avoid surgery altogether. And the best way to avoid many surgeries is to diagnose disease earlier and provide treatment through non-invasive, domestic pharmaceutical intervention.

Americans would be far better off with proper medication today than a passage to India tomorrow.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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