Ottawans lured to NY hospital for hip, knee replacements

A hospital in upstate New York is marketing speedy knee and hip replacements to patients in Ottawa.

Canadian Orthopaedic Association says Canadian doctors might not do follow-ups

A 2011 survey by the American consumer website NerdWallet pegs the average cost for a hip or knee replacement at $52,000 US. (The Canadian Press) (Daniel LeClair/Reuters)

A hospital in upstate New York is marketing speedy knee and hip replacements to patients in Ottawa.

The Alice Hyde Medical Centre is hoping to capitalize on wait times for knee and hip replacements in Ottawa, which is more than 220 days on average.

The centre is located in Malone, New York, about a two-hour drive southeast of Ottawa. It's holding an information session Thursday night at the Southway Inn hotel on Bank Street.

The online and Ottawa newspaper ads boldly claim, "Pain-free knees and hips are just 30 days away."

"It's really all about looking to our neighbours who are not far from us to our north and saying, we are an alternative, and you should look at all of your options before you decide whether it makes sense to wait for access through your current health-care provider," said Doug Divello, president of the not-for-profit Alice Hyde Medical Centre.

Divello would not discuss their prices, but a 2011 survey by the American consumer website NerdWallet pegs the average cost for a hip or knee replacement at $52,000 US.

Since OHIP won't cover any part of the surgery, Divello said patients don't need referrals from their Canadian doctors.

"Ultimately this is a consumer-driven world that we live in, and I think most people understand that patients have a choice and we don't own anybody," he said.

Canadian Orthopaedic Association sounds alarm

The Canadian Orthopaedic Association warns that some of its surgeons might be reluctant to do the follow-ups, and that patients may have to make return trips at their own expense to see their U.S. surgeon.

"Canadians who go to the U.S. or abroad should be aware that optimal care includes more than just the surgery," the association said in an emailed statement.

"Post-op rehab is just as important as the surgery, and regular follow-up for the next 10 to 15 years is recommended to make sure that the implant is functioning well."

"Canadian surgeons would be reluctant to follow up a patient who had joint-replacement surgery in the U.S. or abroad, since they did not perform the surgery themselves. So patients can expect return trips to see their U.S. surgeons at their expense."

Poll question

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.