ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN BARIATRIC SURGERY IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY
Background and aims. Obesity is the fastest growing health problem worldwide. Ethical issues linked to obesity are numerous and still under debate even in countries with a long history in obesity treatment.
Methods. From 2007 to 2015 we performed several types of bariatric surgical approaches on 250 patients with an average body mass index (BMI) of 42. The age range was 12-64 years. No death was recorded. Direct or phone contact was possible with 90% of them during follow-up. Starting from a specific question based approach in ethics we present aspects regarding obesity surgery in Romania. Patients’ safety, informed consent, cost cover, the role of bariatric surgery in children and bariatric surgeons’ training are discussed.
Results. Co-morbidities improved or even disappeared in 90% of our patients. Informed consent is a major problem, due to the lack of public knowledge necessary. The private system in Romania offers bariatric surgery at lower prices than Western Europe but is still out of reach for a person with an average income. Lack of maturity and disharmonic family relations raise a series of challenges in assessing the best interest of children and adolescents. Ethics committees, which operate according to well-defined processes, are more and more active in universities and research centers in Romania, checking that methods and performance of scientific studies meet adequate standards.
Conclusions. A detailed informed consent, thorough preoperative patient assessment and method selection are mandatory for good results in obesity surgery. Insufficient financial resources combined with the long time necessary to acquire the expertise for laparoscopic bariatric surgery may represent an additional pressure on both physicians and patients.