Turkey warning as 22 people die after botched medical procedures

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Brits have been urged to be careful when visiting Turkey for medical procedures as government officials warn of botched treatments in the country. People are being told to carry out extensive research before heading to the Mediterranean destination, following a report which found 22 British nationals had died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical tourism visits.

The Foreign Office updated its guidance for Turkey following a surge in Brits undertaking “medical tourism” – heading to the country to have surgical and dental treatment.

The new advice states: “Cosmetic surgery, dental procedures and cardiac surgery are the most common procedures that medical tourists undertake.

“The standard of medical facilities and available treatments vary widely around the world. As such, British nationals considering undertaking medical treatment in Turkey should carry out their own research; it is unwise to rely upon private companies that have a financial interest in arranging your medical treatment abroad.”

Tourists are advised to stick to medical providers who are approved by Turkey’s Ministry of Health.

The term “medical tourism” also known as “health tourism”, refers to tourists heading abroad for medical treatment. The most common procedures include cosmetic surgery, dental procedures and cardiac surgery.

Travelling somewhere else for these procedures can be enticing, as they may be cheaper or more available. 

But some of the key risks include complications such as infections and antibiotic resistance, lack of rigorous licensing and regulation in some countries, and lack of follow-up care when the patients return home.

For instance, a Manchester woman earlier spoke out after undergoing botched dental surgery in Turkey. 

After waking up from the procedure, Rida Azeem said: “I had big gaps underneath my gums, and you could see all the metal bits (of the implants). It was done so badly it was unbelievable.”

“Originally, they were going to do five implants,” she added. But when the treatment was about to start, the dentists told her they would “have to remove all your teeth”.

The 42-year-old, who now has to wear veneers, said the dodgy dentists had “looked professional”.

Attracted by the promise of the perfect smile at an unbeatable price, between 150,000 and 250,000 foreign patients flock to Turkey every year, according to the Turkish Dental Association (TDB).

This makes it one of the world’s most popular dental tourism destinations alongside Hungary, Thailand and Dubai in the UAE.

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Dr Azad Eyrumlu, CEO of private dental firm Banning Dental Group, said: “Many people don’t properly consider the risks of having complex procedures in a foreign country where standards may not be as high as the UK and there may be a severe lack of aftercare. Very few countries in the world have dental care as regulated as in the UK.

“Complex dental procedures often require a lot of aftercare and fine-tuning, which can be difficult to do if you have to travel hundreds of miles for each appointment. Many treatments need time for the body to heal such as with dental implants and it is not something that can be finished on a holiday.

“If something goes wrong, it can prove almost impossible for a patient to find an NHS dentist willing to take on the challenge of correcting it because of the complexities of the system here.”

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