The CCSS or Caja operates public hospitals such as the Alajuela hospital  (pictured) and clinics.
The CCSS or Caja operates public hospitals such as the Alajuela hospital (pictured) and clinics.

Q COSTA RICA NEWS – The story begins in 2005, when a man, identified by his last name, Benavides, visited a Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) or “Caja” health centre for an inguinal hernia.

Following the medical exam on October 20, 2005, hospital staff told him he needed an operation and was placed on the waiting list.

He waited. And waited. Time passed.

In 2015, now ten years later and no call from the hospital, he had discomfort with the hernia. At the hospital for treatment, again he was told he would have to wait, that ‘they were working through the waiting list’.

Benavides could not wait anymore, he contacted a lawyer, Mario Zamora and filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV).

In June 2016, the Salva IV ruled in favour of Benavides and ordered the CCSS to perform the surgery and pay ¢2 million colones in damages caused by the ten-year waiting time.

Mario Cajina, head of the legal department of the CCSS, said that on July 20, 2016 the institution filed an appeal to the judgment, that is not yet final, against the amount of the damages which it believes is too high.

According to the CCSS in June of 2016, the waiting list was growing at a rate of 15,000 patients per month, sitting at the time at 153,000 people.

In the ruling, Sala IV considered that any delays in hospitals, clinics and other care units of the Caja could have a negative impact on the life and health prevention of users and that CCSS clinics and hospitals are duty-bound to adopt and implement changes.

“In order to justify poor and precarious patient care, higher-ups can not invoke the problem of waiting lists for surgical interventions and the application of specialized examinations or the lack of financial, human and technical resources, since it is a constitutional imperative that public health services be provided in an efficient, effective, continuous, regular and expeditious manner, ” said the Constitutional Court.

Source La Nacion

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