SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The person who performed a deadly cosmetic procedure on the wife of a Guatemalan diplomat did not have a surgical license, Mexican media reported Thursday.
Tijuana’s El Imparcial newspaper and another news publication in Baja California are reporting that María José Chacón, 38, died July 4 after she was taken by ambulance to Tijuana’s Red Cross Hospital.
She was the wife of Henry Giovanni Ortiz, the Guatemalan consul general in Denver.
Doctors reportedly told him that she died of organ failure following a cosmetic procedure on June 24.
“After the inspection, it was determined there was no medical accreditation for this person pretending to be a doctor at this establishment,” Erwin Areizaga, head of Baja California’s Protection Against Health Risks Commission, told reporters. “Investigators discovered the doctor who was responsible for the clinic had died earlier and it’s why this institution did not have a license.”
According to the reports, Areizaga says staff at the Hospital Jerusalem ignored a state order to close but continued performing medical and surgical procedures. The facility reportedly was also running an illegal pharmacy on site.
He stated the hospital had been shut down and sealed off, but staff members allegedly removed seals on doors and admitted more patients.
“People were practicing medicine and nursing without degrees or professional accredited licenses,” Areizaga said. “The hospital had been issued a 38.5 million peso fine (roughly $1.9 million) that has not been paid.”
Baja California Gov. Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda said she will push a bill in the state congress to “avoid these type of charlatans.”
“All patients who seek a surgical procedure need to have assurances they will be cared for by first-level doctors in Baja California institutions,” the governor said.
Americans often seek medication and medical care, including cosmetic surgery, south of the border because it’s substantially cheaper and more readily available.
Just last month, the Mexican government is began a series of promotional campaigns for some of its states, and first on the list was Baja California, which is known as a “medical tourism” destination.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Baja California’s medical tourism industry tripled from 2014 through 2018, growing from 800,000 patients to 2.4 million, and generating annual revenues of more than $1.7 billion. Additionally, officials in Baja California’s medical tourism industry believe it is within the financial interest of Tijuana practitioners to police each other to avoid unsafe conditions and infections, the report said.
Dr. Santiago Horgan, a professor of clinical surgery at the University of California San Diego, told the Union-Tribune that he recommends people check accreditations, rather than just reviewing promotional marketing material and online testimonials, which can be fabricated.