- "CAVEAT EMPTOR"
-- BUYER BEWARE . . . From an Industry Insider . . .
- FOR YOUR PROTECTION
. . .
- SUGGESTED THINGS
TO DO & QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN RESEARCHING
- FOREIGN OR U.S.
TREATMENT CENTERS / CLINICS
- When researching a new clinic or treatment
center, be sure to be polite but asssertive in your rights and
you're considering going to for treatment for a written explanation
of as many of these you feel are appropriate :
- 1. How long have the physicians and other
professionals have been doing these therapies and what is their
training / qualifications? Is there specialist certifications
- 2. How long have they been in business in
this town? Are they allowed to give any patient references who
had the same diagnosis ? (many won't because of confidentiality
- 3. Are they Licensed and Certified by the
Dept. of Health ? Can you get their License No. and Certificate
No.? (Especially Important for Foreign Clinics--Health Dept.
Licenses and Certification means they are monitored for practicing
sterile procedures and other basic medical safety precautions
to US standards . . . (i.e.rubber gloves, disposable needles,
- 4. DEA # (if appropriate)...(this is issued
by the USA to American physicians using controlled drugs like
Morophine, Darvocet, etc.). Some may not give it you to prevent
- 5. Also check for their Business License--in
Mexico, anyone can set up shop in a house and treat. A Business
License means they're serious enough to pay taxes and willing
to go by the rules...this is not the same as a Medical Facilities
- 6. Informed Consent Forms Used? How do they
handle injuries such as a heart attack, stroke, etc?
- 7. Is any of my history or file going to
be used for education and/or collecting study data? If so, for
- 8. Will my name and address and personal
information be sold to a data base firm for purchase by supplement
companies, other clinics or research groups?
- 9. Will any of my medical information be
accessible to my employer should they request it?
- 10. Who actually administers the therapies...the
doctor himself or nursing staff...or medical assistants? What
kind of certifications or licenses do they carry?
- 11. Do you bring in outside consulting personnel
(massage therapists, dentists, etc.)? If so, are their fees separate
or built in?
- 12. Are they up to date CPR certificates?
- 13. Do they have a defibrilator on site which
has current certifications? (having one which is not working
correctly is a common problem)
- 14. Do you use any blood or animal -based
products like interferon, immunoglobulins, heparin, vaccines,
etc. in medications or therapies?
- 15. What procedures are taken to insure that
they've been found pure and safe for human use (studies) ...
may I have a copy of the certificate of the lab that manufactures
them and the batch numbers? (don't
ever let anyone inject you with anything without first seeing
the bottles it came from and the batch numbers and write it down
in case you have a bad reaction
and/or die and your family needs it for follow up).
- 16. FOREIGN CLINICS: Can I get copies of
my chart in English including all labs, lists of i.v. meds, procedures,
- 17. If they're going to do Chelation, did
the physician get board certified ? Do they do an EKG and HRV
first to check heart function?
- 18. If they're doing Oxidative Therapies,
have they been certified by IBOM or in Germany, etc.? How long
have they done it and HOW do they do it? (many kinds of Oxidative
- 19. Any special certificates or training
in biochemistry and clinical nutrition? Virology, Microbiology,
Oncology, etc.? Are they members of ACAM or A4M? (Antiaging Med.)
- 20. Clinic/ Treatment Philosophy-- just treating
symptoms or the whole person?.... Is the patient part of the
and decision process or just to receive whatever they decide?
(Some physicians in the last 10 yrs. whose practices were
doing poorly saw an opportunity and jumped into "alternative"
to increase their income centers (cash practice) but are not
really practicing from a wholistic integrated approach...be aware
of that when researching so you know what to expect and
not be offended if they don't offer what you're expecting. It's
not always their "forte"... Just move on...)
- 21. Therapies/Programs offered for patients
like you (do they use a cookbook approach but use less toxic
methods than traditional or are they using a customized protocol
for you that is adjusted as you go?)
- 22. Do they use a Pic line installed surgically
or daily stick for i.v. therapies (we prefer a pic line or subclavian
port to avoid constant traumas to the area)
- 23. In writing,
get required diagnostics, their rationale & cost & how
many times during treatment period (sometimes labs are done
Some clinicians make this an income center and do alot of labs
on site...most refer out. If hormone panels, viral loads, biochemistry
tests, etc. are done, it can run into thousands of dollars. Don't
be afraid to ask why they feel you need to be tested...what info.
they'll get from it and how the treatment protocol will change
if they don't have this
test (usually it doesn't change it much at all). Most of the
tests are not covered by any insurance...like the stealth virus'
test isn't I don't think...If you're going to a Foreign Clinic,
GET ALL PREADMIT LABS DONE IN THE STATES FIRST...
- 24. Many Mexican Clinics play a "shell"
game...they say they're doing the labs but then send it out and
put results on their own stationery so you can't contact the lab...that's illegal in the US...Besides
which, most insurers cover labs from the US...but not foreign.
We recommend US Labs only.
- Note FYI...it has been illegal for doctors
to pay discounted fees to a lab and then marking it up to the
patient (a felony ). Labs are not allowed to discount services
to physicians in exchange for increased business (a long time
business practice that was made illegal several years ago). For
example, a lab will give the doctor's office a discount to say
$15 for a chem panel and the doctor's office will mark it up
to $40 to the patient, pocketing the difference... Many
people don't know that is illegal unless the doctors office performs
that actual tests onsite and doesn't send it out to a
lab (which requires CLIA certification as a lab and is very expensive).
A draw fee or facilitation fee is fine, but marking up actual
tests fees is not. The FTC says that "reselling" of
lab services is illegal and it became a Felony...since 1997-8
when several major labs (Smith-Kline Beechem & others) got
encouraging business by this practice and had to pay millions
of dollars in fines and judgements. If possible, ask to work
with the lab
directly...they usually extend a 50% discount for cash or prepayment
anyway to patients...it's much cheaper in the long run and the
results are the same.
- 25.In Writing -- Biological Rationale
of each treatment modality, mechanism of action, and what they
hope it will accomplish in your case, Costs, etc.
- 26. Do they provide a written list of what
is put into your i.v. solutions & injectibles ? How about
full copies of your records when you leave including all diagnostics
and SOAP notes?
- 27. Can you get a Master Bill-- an itemized
invoice with appropriate insurance CPT codes?
- 28. Supplements expected to be purchased,
what they're for (biological rationale) and anticipated outcomes(why)...how
much $ and return/exchange policies
- 29. How clinical treatments administered
(i.v. infusions, etc.), how long daily, how many sessions (for
example, chelation should not be less than 40 sessions if its
a new patient)...
- Note for Chelation Patient Potentials: This may seem like an unnecessary precation and common
sense but it is borne out of my experiences over the years...Make
sure no one puts an i.v. solution in your body if you have any
heart disease or kidney disease or PCVD until AFTER they've gotten your labs
back and see how your kidney and liver function are.
Unfortunately, I've experienced first hand clinicians who want
to get the patient "hooked up" right away (to make
them feel committed and keep them coming back) before labs &
diagnostics are back and evaluated to adjust the dosing, etc.
based on the doctor's clinical gut experience, but I've had two
of my referred -out patients injured this way and one die at
Loma Linda ICU from a massive coronary induced after a chelating
physician's office was too desperateand negligent. I now advise
patients to make their doctors or nurse wait and do it right...it
only takes usually 1 day to get labs back and usually sooner
if drawn early enough. Use your common sense and don't let anyone
rush you according to their schedule...
- 30. Common if any side effects and risks
in writing along with a treatment plan and signed Informed
Consent, signed by both the licensed treating physician, center
administrator and the patient or their legal power of attorney.
- 31. Financial Policies ... payment methods
and policies and refund policies for early treatment termination
- 32. Refers to #27 above...Insurance submission
for reimbursement...Sometimes if the patient submits the coded
invoices to their insurer, they'll cover something eventhough
the physician's office can't bill directly. As long as its not
Medicare. Alternative clinics usually don't accept insurance
illegal for physicians offices to bill for non-medicare coded
procedures, but not for the patient to submit for request for
reimbursement (the foundation for all insurance codes is the
Medicare codes). (The only exception I've found is for
dietary & lifestyle modification...Dr. Whitaker's clinic
in So.Cal. has mastered this billing and has made alot of $ and
even got some
recovery on medicare patients)... so don't be put off if they
don't do insurance...its the nature of the industry...there are
no insurance codes for 99% of what we do in integrated medicine...that's
why its referred to alot as "non-consensus" medicine.
Expect to pay out of pocket. Also ask if they extend a cash discount
and also if they accept credit cards...that way if the services
are not performed or you're sold supplements you didn't want,
you're credit card
charge back is in tact. Make sure they don't charge up front
for the entire treatment cost unless they have a written refund
policy if you don't complete the treatment schedule as designed.
- 33. Discharge / Home Care Instructions should
be given in writing w/ways to deal with crisis or unwanted side
effects and who to call
- 34. Follow Up Calls to be expected Post Treatment...
how often ? Is there any charge, and if so, how much $$ and how
is it paid for?
- 35. Resources for home care...organic food
suppliers, health food stores, nurses registerys's for in-home
i.v care, nurses aids,
therapists, diagnostic centers, etc. in the patients home area
if possible. Home healthcare agencys, etc.
- 36. MEXICAN CLINIC CONSIDERATION: IF POSSIBLE,
MAKE ARRANGEMENTS DIRECTLY WITH THE CLINIC BEING INVESTIGATED
(DON'T USE A CLINIC TOUR GUIDE) TO VISIT THE CLINIC AND TALK
TO PATIENTS ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES . . .STAY AROUND LONG ENOUGH
TO WATCH HOW THEY'RE TREATED....IF THE STAFF SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH,
ETC. ALSO, CALL THE U.S. COUNSELATE AND FIND OUT IF THERE HAVE
BEEN COMPLAINTS AND WHAT TYPE...
- 37. What transportation and lodging options
are available? What is the cost?
- 38. What type of meals are provided if any?
Grocery and Food Options, Healthfood Stores, etc.? (Typhus is
endemic in Mexico so DO NOT eat tacos or other foods from Stands
since flys carry it. Also, cleaning service companies frequently
use uneducated indians, etc.who are not aware how they spread
disease by using the same rag to wipe tables and desks as they
use for cleaning toilets, so be cautious about use of public
bathrooms. We always bring sanitary wipes and 3% hydrogen peroxide
along for disinfecting surfaces ourselves.
- 39. As of Jan. 1, 2008 a Passport will be
required to enter or leave Mexico from the USA.
- 40. PRACTICE OF FINDERS FEES. It is a little
known but common practice for doctors and clinics to pay "referral"
fees to a referring individual or patient who refers a friend
for treatment. The commission % is simply tacked on to the patient's
treatment fees. Sometimes, clinics pay as much as 40-50% of the
patient's clinic fee to the referring party. We find this
practice abhorant and immoral. We don't pay finders fees or commissions
and pass the cost on to the patient or build it into the cost
- Ask if the fees being quoted include a "finders
fee" or referral commission (this is commonly how clinic
tour guides make a living...). Sometimes the clinics offer "free"
or discounted therapy in exchange for patients also. This practice
is totally ILLEGAL AND IS A FELONY if caught since Border Clinics
using US bank accounts & ads are subject to all US Laws,
and in the US it is illegal for a physician to pay patients for
referrals...payment can be in the form of $ or free treatment,
- 41. SEPT. 2008 UPDATE...THIS IS AN ADDITION
FOR FOREIGN CLINIC PATIENTS...Due to the recent political and
financial unrest in Mexico, we recommend any patient coming into
for treatment to register with the US Consulate PRIOR to coming.
If you do not register, you have absolutely no legal standing
if there is a death or injury you need to resolve. It is easy
enough to do it online. Mexico is being very unfriendly when
it comes to getting Americans (dead or injured) who are in their
care back into the US without lots of hassles and pay outs...registering
with the Consulate helps reduce or eliminate this.
Many inviduals reading these things are already familiar with
all of the above...if so, forgive my presumptions. This information
is intended to protect the patient and reduce the potential for
misunderstandings and dis-satisfied patients who feel ripped
off. We all need to be upfront and honest in our attempts to
reduce the stress from chronic miscommunications on both sides
of the equasion.
- My focus is on the patients right and need
to know as much information as possible to make the most informed
decisions...I don't care about individual political agendas,
personality conflicts and professional biasis and posturing,
etc. that is so prevalent in medicine (alternative or allopathic)
research circles...that's not useful and unprofessional and should
be kept out of the process. Both sides (integrated/alternative
v.s. traditional mainstream) say they're trying to protect patients
from harm by being "taken advantage of" or "being
injured" by the other side...the reality is that many patients
have been taken advantage by unethical physicians and practioners
on both sides...I think
the patient is the one to make the ultimate decision however,
and in order to do that, they need accurate unbiased information,
and respect. The GOLDEN RULE APPLYS HERE...Treat others the way
you want to be treated...
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