Medical Tourism – Understanding the Risks

While costs of many elective surgeries and medical procedures continues to rise in the US, many people considering going under the knife are looking abroad for cost cutting options. This blossoming industry, known as Medical Tourism, must be approached with even greater caution than surgery in the United States. It is big business, and potential patients are often lured overseas by the promise of quality medical care for as little as one tenth the cost of the same procedure in the US. There are, however, significantly more risks associated with having surgery in a foreign country than there are in the US. We will examine a few of these risks in the following paragraphs. fake mc

Licensing and Certification Issues

One of the first things to consider is that foreign countries often do not regulate medical certification and licensing as strictly as the United States. While it is true that many overseas doctors are indeed highly qualified, it is important to investigate the specific credentials and references of each practitioner. This effort may be tougher than usual, since prospective patients in general are far less educated about foreign medical associations and regulations than domestic ones. Most often these medical facilities are privately owned, which can make checking the credentials of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and medical staff all the more difficult.

Legal Issues

Since United States law is rarely enforceable overseas, patients who choose Medical Tourism will have little if any legal recourse in the event that something goes wrong with the procedure. Medical malpractice and negligence can become much tougher issues to deal with in a foreign country than here in the United States. The limited ability to litigate in non-US countries is one reason that the cost of procedures overseas is able to be kept so low. Certainly some countries that market themselves as superior hosts for the medical tourist also tout some form of legal recourse in the case of negligence or malpractice, but these means may not be exactly what the patient is expecting. Hospitals and doctors in certain countries may not be able to pay out a settlement should you successfully win your suit against them. Personal medical insurance will rarely cover procedures that take place out of the country. The prospect of complications long after the patient is back home further muddy the waters of any legal issues that may arise.

Ethical Issues

While many will argue that Medical Tourism is a safe and viable outlet for quality medical care, there are other camps that point out that ethical issues may still exist that should cause American consumers to be extremely wary of going abroad for surgery. In countries such as China and India, there are still alleged instances of illegal purchases of tissues and organs used for transplant surgeries. A broader ethical issue that has grown along with the industry itself is the impact of Medical Tourism on citizens of the countries that people are flocking to in order to have these procedures performed. According to recent reports out of Thailand, doctors in the country have become so busy treating Medical Tourists that Thai patients are now having trouble getting quality care. If this trend continues, expect some backlash in the United States towards those choosing to go abroad for medical procedures.

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *