Waiting months and years on end for surgery in public hospital is common in Costa Rica
Waiting months and years on end for surgery in public hospital is common in Costa Rica

Q COSTA RICA NEWS – At last count 67,784 people are on the waiting list for surgeries at Costa Rica’s public medical centres, of that are four patients in Perez Zeledon, waiting for an operation since 2010, according to the data from the Área de Estadística en Salud, de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), as at December 6, 2016.

Among the most lagged cases are the 8,574 on the waiting list between 2010-2014: the 4 in 2010 at the Hospital Escalante Pradilla, in Pérez Zeledón; 146 cases pending from 2011 in different hospitals; almost one thousand waiting for surgery since 2012; another 2,217 from 2013; and 5,291 from 2014.

The accumulated number of cases between 2015 and so far this 2016 is 59,300.

Chart prepared by La Nacion
Chart prepared by La Nacion

According to the CCSS data, they boast that the waiting period fell from an average of 623 days in 2012 to 251 days this past August. That’s like almost a 7 month wait.

Many of the cases on the waiting list include ‘critical specialties’ such as Orthopedics and Ophthalmology, says the Caja.

The way the public health system works is, first a patient must be insured, either through his or her employer or by direct contribution. The latter is one of the requirements of foreigners obtaining residency in the country.

Next is a visit to the hospital or Ebais, local clinics, with a general practitioner. This is the first line in the process, literally, where for example, at the Ebais in Pavas (as in most across the country), the insured arrives early (real early, before dawn the best) to get a number.  The choice is not, to wait to be called or take the chance and come back later.

If case is serious it is elevated to a specialist to determine if surgery is required.  If the initial consult was at an Ebais, the case is elevated to a hospital.

The hospital then schedules the surgery. The patient is sent home waiting to be called. Reports of call times in 2020 or beyond are not uncommon.

Once called, the patient has to show up for the surgery or risk being sent back for another appointment, which could mean more years of waiting.
With notes from La Nacion