Medical tourism presents issues even for those who choose qualified physicians in first world nations at world-class medical treatment centers. The customer who is less discerning, and selects a clinic in a nation without a well-developed medical system staffed by highly trained physicians, may not only have the procedure done incorrectly, but the patient may also jeopardize his or her life.
Credibility of Care
Quality medical care is not confined to the United States, but each nation will have its own policies and procedures. When looking to have low-cost cosmetic procedures performed abroad in less-developed nations, prospective patients should review that nation’s laws and procedure by which physicians become licensed. Mexico also has stringent requirements to become a physician and licensed physicians are likely to provide acceptable levels of care.
However, Mexican medical operations often lack much of the funding available to first world medical centers either through direct patient contribution or government subsidy. As a result, even a trained physician may not have the ideal facilities in which to perform an operation. Additionally, many physicians remain unlicensed. Patients should always confirm that their physician is licensed in the country in which they are visiting before undergoing any medical procedure.
Malpractice and Redress
Americans have access to a sophisticated legal system that allows injured plaintiffs to recover damages for negligence. Medical malpractice is defined clearly and the rules are uniformly enforceable. Physicians and hospitals often carry high levels of malpractice insurance to cover awards and settlements provided to injured plaintiffs.
Most countries do not provide injured patients with such opportunities. Patients may file civil actions against negligent Mexican medical doctors and be awarded a judgment in an American courtroom, but enforcing that judgment is another matter.
Legalities South of the Border
Mexico’s Federal Code of Civil Procedure requires domestic courts to enforce foreign judgments under certain circumstances. However, the effect of such laws on the actions of Mexican courts remains mixed. In many cases, American civil judgments are unenforceable from a practical standpoint in Mexico.
Additionally, an enforceable judgment may not result in a payment, as a Mexican physician may not have the financial resources to cover the high cost of medical procedures in the United States. Under Mexican law, foreign judgments may not be enforced if they affect real property; if the physician’s assets are tied up in a ranch or in other property, patients may not force the sale of that property to increase the payments even with a fully cooperative court.
The moral of this story would seem to be that putting your life on the line to save money isn’t a wise move. Even under the best of circumstances, these surgeries can go very wrong; if they do, you will want to not only have expert medical assistance available—but be properly backed up by legal recourse as necessary.