My colleagues and I have recently been consulted to see a patient in an emergency room. The patient had traveled south of the border for a weight loss procedure. Following the procedure, they returned to the US the same day and a few hours later ended up in an emergency room. Luckily we were able to attend to the patient and render necessary care. After further investigation, I noted the patient was treated as a one time encounter, without adequate preoperative or postoperative education. The medications prescribed for the patient were inadequate to address the anticipated recovery process. I had a long discussion with the patient. They informed me that they never met their surgeon prior to the surgery and no follow up other than a phone call was set up…

This is a sad yet hidden reality of every case of medical tourism!

Medical tourism refers to the practice of traveling to another country for medical treatment that is often cheaper or more readily available than in one’s home country. While medical tourism can offer certain benefits, such as access to specialized treatments or procedures, there are also significant risks and dangers associated with this practice.

One of the biggest dangers of medical tourism is the potential for receiving substandard or even dangerous medical care. In many countries, medical regulations are less strict than in more developed countries, and patients may be at risk of receiving treatment from unlicensed or unqualified medical professionals. Additionally, language barriers and cultural differences can make it difficult for patients to communicate their needs and understand the treatment they are receiving, which can lead to serious complications or even death.

Another risk associated with medical tourism is the potential for contracting infections or diseases that are not present in one’s home country. This is especially true for patients who undergo invasive procedures or who stay in hospitals or other medical facilities for extended periods of time. Patients may also be exposed to different medications, which can have unpredictable effects on their health.

Furthermore, medical tourism can be difficult to navigate and may not be covered by insurance, which can lead to financial hardships for patients and their families. Patients may also face legal challenges if they experience complications or if they are dissatisfied with the treatment they receive.

In conclusion, while medical tourism can offer certain benefits, it is important for patients to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before traveling abroad for medical treatment. Patients should thoroughly research the medical facility and the qualifications of the medical professionals who will be treating them, as well as consider the potential risks associated with travel, language barriers, and cultural differences.