Risks of Medical Tourism
Looking at medical tourism from an economic perspective makes it easy to see why this option is so appealing. Receiving quality, affordable healthcare from internationally-trained doctors and surgeons in a relaxing resort atmosphere is a great option. But patients considering medical travel should be aware that it does carry a few serious risks.
The most common issue related to medical tourism is the quality of the medical institution itself. It can be difficult to check the qualifications of the doctors, anaesthesiologists and other specialized staff at medical facilities which are privately-owned and operated. This is particularly true with cosmetic surgeons, who almost always have their own privately-run clinics.
It is absolutely essential that any medical tourist thoroughly researches the hospital, clinic or institution where they are planning to have their procedure done. This is best accomplished by scouring the internet, especially blog sites that provide firsthand experiences and advice from others who have already completed the procedure. With a bit of research reputable hospitals and clinics are globally well-known and easy to distinguish from shady unqualified doctors.
The protection laws in your own country are rarely enforceable in other nations. Patients who receive poor or damaging medical treatment usually have no legal recourse. Malpractice and negligence by either the individual doctor or the institution are very rarely covered, leaving medical tourists left to fend for themselves. On other hand, it’s the lack of expensive malpractice insurance prevalent in the West that helps keep costs so low in these countries.
The issue of follow-up care is another thing to carefully research and consider before choosing an institution for your medical care. Most medical tourism packages provide very little, if any, follow-up care after your operation. Once you return to your home country, any complications that arise will be more difficult to deal with. Again, this is a particular concern with cosmetic surgery.
The recovery vacation period so heavily promoted by medical tourism packages can also carry certain risks. Depending on the extent of the surgery, travelling soon after an operation greatly increases the potential for complications. Long air flights increase the chance of swelling, blood clots and infection. Even sunbathing on the beach will darken the scars.
The best solution here is to allow for plenty of time to recover in the country where the medical procedure is done. Don’t assume you can really get out and about too much during this vacation period. Rest is what your body will need, so choose a calm, relaxing destination for this vacation recovery period.
The bottom line is that medical tourism isn’t a perfect, guaranteed option. Travellers will be out of their element both during and after the procedure, potentially adding stress to the situation. Post-care varies widely between facilities, so do a thorough check and carefully weigh the advantages of cost versus safety when making this important decision.
Chances are, if you pick a reputable hospital or clinic you will have no problems whatsoever. But as the medical tourism industry continues to grow at such a fast pace, the inevitable quacks will become more prevalent.