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Mystery shoppers uncover ‘foreigner discrimination’ in plastic surgery clinics

By Kim Min-joo

Published : Aug. 28, 2017 - 16:12

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Seoul’s Gangnam-gu Office said Monday that “foreign patient mystery shoppers” were deployed to conduct an investigation on 50 cosmetic surgery clinics in the district, and found that some clinics made foreign patients wait longer and pay more for treatment.

The mystery shoppers, posing as Chinese patients, anonymously evaluated each clinic’s service, from appointment to consultation from medical tourists' perspective.

(Gangnam-gu) (Gangnam-gu)

The specific evaluation categories included: notification of patient’s rights and responsibilities, translation services for foreign patients, consultation with the doctor covering information about risks and side effects, agreement on pricing before surgery, and refund policies.

Gangnam officials said the mystery shoppers reported several problems, including poor contract enforcement, longer waiting times and higher pricing for surgery compared to those for domestic patients.

Translation problems due to absence of an international patient coordinator, and the use of words with xenophobic connotations by the hospital staff were also reported as a result of the investigation. 

(Gangnam-gu) (Gangnam-gu)

“Though our hospitals have talented doctors and state-of-the-art medical devices, a certain lack of attitude toward foreign patients was brought up as a problem in the investigation,” said an official at the Gangnam-gu office, which did not give the number of problematic clinics.

Gangnam-gu will provide the clinics with a report based on the investigation’s result, as well as a customized consulting service to address each clinic’s quality issues.

Just five clinics were rated as outstanding in the investigation, which will be certified for service excellence and receive promotional benefits from Gangnam-gu.

(mjk625@heraldcorp.com)