Cardiologist’s claim of needless deaths becomes a major issue

The concern over wait times at the nation’s public hospitals took a dramatic turn Wednesday when the chief of cardiology at Hospital México said that 141 persons had died unnecessarily.

The allegation was a shocker for the nation’s news media, and the major television stations devoted plenty of air time to interviewing the cardiologist, Sofía Bogantes, and the head of the hospital, Douglas Montero, also a physician.

Dr. Bogantes alleged that the lack of catheter procedures cost the lives of the patients who were on a waiting list. She said the list now holds 800 persons awaiting the medical procedure. She included with her written complaint a list of the 141 person who died.

She sent the document to legislators, and one lawmaker called for the dismissal of  Montero.

Hospital México in La Uruca handles delicate heart procedures for much of the country. The catheters are tubes that are inserted into a vein and used to open up passages for blood flow.

The hospital has been undergoing remodeling for the last year, and there have been many postponements of operations in all areas.

Dr. Bogantes said she had been complaining about the lengthy waiting list for two years. Lengthy waiting lists are the norm for the public hospitals operated by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. However, hardly ever does someone with the stature of Dr. Bogantes link the waiting lists with deaths.

That was the shocker that television presenters reflected. Montero appeared on Channel 11 and underwent an extensive cross examination. He also appeared in videos at other stations.

Expats who are legal residents of Costa Rica have to signup with the Caja for health care, but most use private facilities where they have to have insurance or pay.

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