Surgical backlog will take six months to clear up

Anesthesiologists and a physician’s organization finally reached agreement with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social that will seek to reprogram nearly 3,000 surgeries over the next six months. These were the surgeries that were canceled because of the strike.

The Caja estimates that nearly 20,000 medical appointments also went by the boards during the strike that began in mid-November. Anesthesiologists went on strike first and they were joined last week by the Unión Médica Nacional.

The agreement suggests that the physicians got most of what they wanted.

The Caja agreed to rehire an anesthesiologist who had been fired. The Caja also agreed to phase in more vacation time for anesthesiologists and
improve working conditions in the operating rooms. The Caja also agreed to explore the possibility of hiring more medical residents and anesthesiologists in training.

The strike served to shine a spotlight on the financially troubled Caja and saw complaints aired about the conduct of physicians. Among other claims was that many physicians arrived late to work and missed appointments. There also were revelations of high salaries.

The Caja said that subscribers should keep any medical appointment scheduled for today. The physicians agreed to begin work with the signing of the agreement Friday, and the Caja said its services would be back to normal today.

Expats who have various forms of residencies here are required to subscribe to the Caja, although many prefer private care.

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