It’s a fact, but don’t you get tired of the spin put on facts by people who don’t disclose their industry-based bias? Quoting in articles sources whose industry livelihood is affected by the outsourcing of medical procedures – and failing to disclose that – is by default biased.
“The Superbug” is described in the 8/12Financial Times (FT, UK) article Scientists sound alarm over superbug. The article is based on recently released research is the highly respected medical journal TheLancet.
The research suggests that arouge gene called NDM-1 which is prevalent in India and Pakistan,alters the DNA of ordinary bacteria that is typically present in hospitals. The result is a “Super Bug” that is resistant to antibiotics.
The result is increased risk of infection related is complications, disability and death as a result of un-treatable infection and complications thereof. The Financial Times stated that the “Super Bug” was found to be present in 27 patients who have returned from treatment abroad in India and Pakistan.
The article portrayed the issue not only as a public health threat, but also as a threat to Medical Tourism. A similar story was published on the same day (8/12)in the Wall Street Journal(WSJ, USA). The WSJ also focused on medical travelersas the culprit “carrier”. CNN online picked up the story on 8/13 and published a similar article.
India being the target of most of the articles, strongly pushed back with India rejects superbug links, (CNN Health). “The Indian health ministry insisted in a written statement Thursday that such organisms were present universally.”
Beyond the scientific facts that stand on their own, these articles play to the public’s fears and bias about healthcare in “developing countries”. There is a clear bias in the way the facts are being interpreted and presented. Bias is “built in” to human nature.
Politicians are very good at playing to our positive biases… Biases can’t be eliminated, however good reporting can help in presenting a realistic, balanced set of facts to the reader.
Partial disclosure of scientific facts without disclosing possible conflict of interest by the writer is not an ethical use of the media platform; It’s just milking a headline for all its worth and spreading more misinformation than information.
And yes, you may see the following response from a medical tourism facilitator with a background in hospital managements as also having an industry slant. And that may be true enough — but my goal here is one of transparency (did I just say that?) .
That being said, let’s start by acknowledging that medical tourism is offering a real and unique solution to solve the problem of health care costs. And as any emerging industry starts to gain critical mass of acceptance, there will be a lot of attention to any possible risks.
I thought you’d like to hear the following response from Shai Gold, the CEO of International Triage. I quote him because his clients include Insurance companies, medical assistance companies, third-party benefit administrators (TPAs), self-insured groups, and governments.
He has also acted as an advisor for Traveling4Health – full disclosure. In addition to addressing the fact of the superbug he’s educating you by explaining his system of “infection control”.
“Anytime a super bug emerges is a bad day for mankind,” said Gold, “Regrettably, scientific progress is partially to blame for the super bugs, as over-prescribed antibiotics are a leading cause for the constant evolution of bacteria into “antibiotic resistant bugs”.
“As it relates to the specifics of the Lancet Article, reader should note that International-Triage Consortium of Hospitals and Clinics is limited to centers of excellence in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Gold, “To this end, our patients are never referred to the Far-East.”
“We pride ourselves on expert evaluation of “infection control” measures in each participating hospital. We evaluate the rate of “Hospital Acquired Infection” and the proficiency of the hospital’s laboratory and blood bank in screening for pathogens that indicate the presence of common and exotic infectious diseases,” said Gold.
“As a MEDICALLY DRIVEN ORGANIZATION, we established a relatively small consortium of US quality Centers of Excellence in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are also the ONLY medical tourism organization that has medical directors in every city that we offer service,” Gold said.
“Having “boots on the ground” is essential for high quality care of our patients as our local medical directors oversee the care provided to the patients,” said Gold, “Moreover, they are essential for obtaining “real-time medical intelligence” about emerging threats to patient safety”.
“We certainly hope that this story does not have a damaging effect on our emerging service sector,” Gold said.
“It would be safe to bet on the fact that the concept of “savings via alternative treatment destinations” has powerful detractors in industrial economies that see patient traffic attracted towards treatment destinations that are more affordable,” said Gold.
“Our bottom line is the strictest adherence to the fundamental principle of medical care “DO NO HARM”, Gold said.
Carlos Troconis, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery& Pediatric Critical Care at HOMS Hospital in Santiago, Dominican Republic, is part of a team of ten senior physicians and surgeons who are employed by International Triage, LLC as Country Medical Directors.
Says Troconis: “HOMS is a new hospital facility that places a premium on infection control. Weare totally computerized with tremendous efforts to keep a data base on all medical activities, and data on the rate of “in house acquired infections” in all its services and the hospital’s laboratory and blood bank (where constantly they are screening for pathogens that indicate the presence of common and unusual infectious diseases.”
The deluge of articles referring to the superbug proves that medical tourism is now gaining mainstream traction not just as a media story also appearing in industry specific publications where the topic is being discussed by the leaders of corporations many of us work for.
Articles like the recent article Medical Tourism: It Can Cut Costs, But is it Right for Your Employees? posted in TLNT, a publication for human resource professionals, is a case in point.
–ilene little for Traveling4Health.com