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News > Costa Rica

Non-COVID-19 Patients Wait Long for Medical Care in Costa Rica

  • A woman waits at the entrance of a hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica, Apr. 30, 2021.

    A woman waits at the entrance of a hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica, Apr. 30, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 May 2021

Waiting lists impede patient access to many public medical services because resources have been diverted to respond primarily to the pandemic.

Costa Rican Ombudsman's Office warned over the disproportionate increase in waiting times for non-COVID-19 patients who need medical treatment. 


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Previously, it filed a complaint before the Constitutional Court for the violations of the right to health caused by medical appointments' delays. 

In a bid to address the situation, the Ombudsman's Office and the Costa Rican Social Security (CCSS) reached an accord establishing working tables, which were suspended in March 2020 and resumed at the beginning of this year.

A report cited by the Ombudswoman Catalina Crespo showed an increase in waiting times for surgery, outpatient, and medical procedure services.

For instance, CCSS only performed 40,590 surgeries out of 102,000 scheduled to take place last year. At least 60 percent of the patients on waiting lists did not access the surgery service.

The report also stated that 2,337,544 outpatient appointments were missed, which meant that 21 percent of patients did not receive medical attention in outpatient consultation.

"Human life is inviolable... Medical services become inaccessible to people, whose limited waiting times are made fragile through a cold bureaucratic list that does not respond to the reality to which thousands of inhabitants are exposed, due to diseases other than Covid," Crespo said. 

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