It is most unfortunate that a tourist sustained such horrible injuries on a 4-wheeler tour and that the family had the unfortunate incident at private Hospital CIMA of being required to pay in advance for medical care.
There are questions about this situation that have not been answered and probably never will be.
If the injured person had been taken to a public hospital with a trauma emergency room here in Costa Rica, the injured tourist would have been treated without a shakedown for prepayment.
Did the patient or family member with her direct the ambulance to go to a private hospital. Since Costa Rica is not yet a nanny state with total control over who a hospital must treat when one is at a private hospital, prepayment is required.
Why would any tourist go to a Third World country and participate in a very dangerous adventure tour without a good quality international medical insurance policy in place?
Buyer beware applies in tours in Third World countries with limited or poor government regulations for safety. Just today you ran a story about a minimum standard electrical code going into effect by presidential decree not a new safety law passed by the congress.
Four wheelers are very dangerous. They have characteristics that make turning them in normal circumstances difficult. Thousands of kids were injured in the U.S. when ignorant parents gave into peer pressure and bought baby four wheelers for kids until product liability cases forced more warnings and safety rules and age limits. An adult with no previous experience driving one of these dangerous things is in just as much danger as a child on a flat surface and in grave danger on a steep incline and a narrow road with no guard rails.
This is a terrible result, but we are all responsible for proper pre-trip planning, including a plan for medical care in the event of an unfortunate accident. Tourist better not let the sunsets, chirping birds and umbrella drinks get them complacent in any Third World country. The crocs in the river will eat you, the snakes will bite you, and the rip tides will drown you, and the private hospitals will refuse to treat you if you don’t pay. This is a Wild West kind of “BE PREPARED.
Tourist medical insurance can be bought in the US and the Instituto Nacional de Seguros has policies here as well. It is not even a bad idea to verify the liability insurance status of tour providers in high risk tours in advance and to be careful about releases of liability signed prior to taken the tour. I wonder what if anything this lady signed before mounting up for this unfortunate ride?
I am sure everyone wishes her a speedy recovery, and I am equally sure the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo hates that this bad news is being sent worldwide to further hamper tourism here. I bet all of the American and foreign investors here are just thrilled that fellow expats are blitzing this news article worldwide and sending it to friends to warn them not to come visit.
We all need to be well informed about safety issues, but in the end we are responsible for our own well being and cannot leave our good judgment at home when we are on vacation on a tight budget.
Barra del Colorado