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Surgeons group: Medical tourists should check doctors' qualifications

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 25, 2009

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The college's statement advises medical tourists to look for hospitals that have been accredited by "recognized accrediting organizations" such as Joint Commission International. Patients also should search for surgeons and anesthesiologists certified in a process similar to that established by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

The nonprofit Medical Tourism Assn. sparked a controversy last fall when it began offering medical travel agencies a "certification" process. Officials at specialty boards and hospital accrediting agencies said the move could confuse patients.

The college also said it opposes insurers' requiring referral of patients outside the U.S. for care, and said payers should be responsible for coordinating care for medical tourists. The college's statement is similar to the American Medical Association policy adopted in June 2008.

About 6 million Americans will travel abroad for care by 2010, according to an estimate from the consulting firm Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. It is unclear how many patients are traveling for surgery, but many of the medical travel firms advertising to U.S. patients highlight the availability of procedures such as cosmetic surgery and hip replacement.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/05/25/prbf0525.htm.

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