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Is Medical Tourism Safe?

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 Body?

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 condition.


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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