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Surgery clinics: Not worth the wait?

Article-Surgery clinics: Not worth the wait?

Toronto — Canadians who choose private health clinics for their weight-loss surgery may have a shorter wait — but they’ll pay more for what may be less than top-quality care, Medical News Today reports.

A research team led by Chaim Bell, M.D., of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, surveyed 30 public and private weight-loss surgery clinics in Canada. The survey sought information about wait time for surgery, cost, surgeon experience, number and type of pre- and postoperative appointments, location of service, and availability of on-site critical care.

Investigators focused on the two most popular procedures: gastric bypass, which is publicly funded, and adjustable gastric-banding surgery, used in many private clinics.

Among the findings:

• Private clinics offering adjustable gastric banding have shorter wait times for surgery.
• Adjustable gastric banding surgery at private clinics is expensive (median cost, $16,000).
• Some private clinics had information on their websites about the surgery’s benefits and risks that was inconsistent with the literature.
• Patients in private clinics received less intense preoperative care, including fewer visits with multidisciplinary health professionals, fewer visits with internists and endocrinologists, and fewer education classes.
• One-quarter of private clinics said they did little or no screening of patients who wanted the surgery.

Medical News Today quotes Dr. Bell as saying, “The private clinics in Canada offer adjustable gastric banding surgery … to patients with a median wait time of only one month, compared to 21 months in the public healthcare system. While this is enticing for patients, our study found 42 percent of private clinics operated without critical-care support, and many offered less intense patient care before surgery.”

Researchers suggested, at minimum, that private clinics be monitored to ensure that they operate safely and with sufficient critical care support, and that they provide patients with accurate, unbiased information about weight-loss surgery options.

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