Is Medical Tourism Safe?
You may have heard stories on the six o’clock news of offshore surgeries gone
bad or patients returning to the U.S. with medical complications that their local
doctors refused treat. While some of these stories may be true, it is important
to point out that thousands of patients are traveling within and outside the U.S.
for medical care and the vast majority are having very positive experiences and
excellent procedure outcomes.
Can something go wrong? Yes. Medical complications or even botched surgeries are
possible in New York as well as in New Delhi. However, medical tourism is generally
very safe if you carefully research your options and follow your doctor’s
recommendations. Consider the following questions when doing your research:
Does the Hospital Specialize in the Procedure or Does it Boast a Center of Excellence?
There is no substitute for experience. This translates into lower mortality rates
and complications, which means a greater chance for your procedure to be a success!
It’s also no secret that top hospitals attract top physicians – another
compelling reason to choose a great hospital.
Is the Hospital Accredited by the Joint Commission or Another Recognized Accrediting
Although accreditation does not guarantee a perfect medical experience, it does
signal that a particular hospital or clinic has invested significant time and resources
in perfecting quality of care processes and patient safety protocols that over time
will promote successful surgical outcomes.
The Joint Commission
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization, which accredits
and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United
States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide
as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting
certain performance standards.
Is the Surgeon Properly Licensed?
Although the likelihood of your doctor being a quack is slim if you are dealing
with a well-known medical institution, it is still prudent to verify your doctor’s
credentials before traveling anywhere for surgery – especially if you are
considering a smaller clinic or overseas hospital. Not only do you want to be certain
that a particular doctor is really a doctor, but you also want to make sure he or
she has the necessary background, skills and experience to successfully treat your
The American Board of Medical Specialties is a good resource
to check board certification status for U.S. physicians.
Checking the credentials of offshore physicians will be a little more difficult;
however, you do have some options:
- Check and see if the offshore physician is affiliated to U.S. or international professional
societies. Organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offer international membership status for non-resident
physicians with the appropriate qualifications.
- Request physician credentials from internationally accredited facilities as they
have a very high stake in making sure that their medical staff’s qualifications
are in order.
- Contact a country’s health ministry or physician licensing board to ensure
a particular doctor is properly licensed.
While none of these measures are full-proof, they will significantly reduce the
likelihood of you choosing an unqualified physician for your treatment.
Is the Destination Safe?
Regardless of the quality of care available there are certain destinations that
are inherently less safe than others due to political turmoil, crime, terrorism
or disease. Fortunately, most of these factors are non issues in Las Vegas, however,
patients traveling overseas need to check with the U.S. State Department and Center
for Disease Control for current conditions before traveling abroad.
U.S. State Department and Center for Disease Control
The U.S. Department of State offers an A-Z List of Countries
where you can get detailed information about different international destinations
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