Get to Know Your Hospital or Clinic

Once you’ve chosen a date and destination for your treatment, you’ll be wise to do some additional sleuthing, beginning with your treatment center. Although detail-driven, this investigation is not as daunting as it sounds, and most of your research involves simple fact-checking. Here’s what to do and how:

Check hospital accreditation. If you’re looking into a treatment that requires hospital care, check to see whether the center is JCI-accredited. (See The What and Why of JCI) While JCI accreditation is not essential, it’s an important new benchmark and the only official American seal of approval for international hospitals and clinics. Learning that your treatment center is JCI-approved lends a comfort to your research process, and the remainder of your searching and checking need not be as rigorous. That said, many excellent hospitals abroad, although not JCI-approved, have received local accreditation at the same standards as American-approved treatment centers. (See Alternatives to JCI)

Check for affiliations and partnerships. Did you know that many of the best overseas hospitals enjoy close partnerships with US universities and medical centers? For example, Harvard Medical School has a center in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where its Institute for Postgraduate Education and Research promotes cross-national collaboration on key education and research projects. The Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research seeks to support a regional community of leaders in medicine and the life sciences.

Learn about success rates. Although smaller clinics don’t offer such information, the larger and more established hospitals freely publish their "success rates" or "morbidity rates." These are usually calculated as a ratio of successful operations to overall number of operations performed. For larger surgeries (such as cardiovascular and orthopedic), success rates of 98+ percent are on par with those found in the US. For the more common surgeries, you should further investigate any rates under 98 percent.

Learn about number of surgeries. Most large hospitals will happily furnish information on numbers of surgeries performed. Generally, the more the better, as there’s safety in numbers on this front. For example, India’s Wockhardt hospitals have amassed a record of more than 40,000 cardiac surgeries and 75,000 interventional cardiology procedures. You will rest easier on your outbound flight knowing that your destination hospital has performed large numbers of procedures with high success rates.

—Excerpted from Patients Beyond Borders World Edition

Last updated on 2 July 2011