On this blog I promote medical tourism, but in particular I try to raise awarness of medical tourism risks and methods to reduce them. If you consider medical travel you expect that a doctor performs a procedure using modern techniques and according to good medical practice and safety/hygiene standards. It is important to realize that quality of healthcare differs and standards of medical care are not the same everywhere in the world.
If you are interested in medical tourism you probably read many articles and you saw documentary programs regarding medical tourism horror stories. You can often read warnings from doctors who practice in developed countries. They explain how dangerous medical tourism is and how many patients with eg. botched plastic surgeries abroad they met. They try to persuade you to raise more money and spend it in your home country. To be honest, I believe that using domestic healthcare system is safer than travelling abroad for medical care. The problem is that many people eg. don’t have medical insurance or they are not able to afford elective procedures. Raising enough money to undergo the procedure in their home country is often not an option for them. So what choice do they have? Even though using the domestic healthcare system has many advantages, I think that doctors and other people who strongly dissuade medical travels may overreact. Let me explain you why I think that way.
First question: why the topic of botched procedures abroad gained so much popularity? There are two reasons. First, medical tourism became popular and it is expected to gain ever more popularity. Second reason media usually provide viewers with negative information. Positive information is not attractive. Media never inform how many people safely get back home after work, they only inform how many accidents happened, how many people died, were injured etc. It has one serious and good implication. It raises awareness and causes that people care more about their safety. I think that when it comes to medical tourism you can’t be too careful.
I read many medical papers regarding medical tourism. Scientists often write that they don’t have exact data on medical tourism effects, number of tourists, motivation of patients, number of complications and so on (you can read about it in my article: Medical tourism facts and statistics). What does it mean? It means that we are not able to assess how dangerous medical tourism is. We don’t have data, so we can’t be sure. Doctors meet patients with botched plastic surgeries abroad. But the truth is that it works both ways. Doctors abroad also meet patients with botched plastic surgeries by patient’s domestic surgeons. There are good and bad specialists in every region of the world. Medical horror stories: complications after surgeries, malpractice, dissatisfaction with the results of the procedure happen everywhere. The problem is that we don’t know how often they occur to medical tourists, so we can’t compare domestic and overseas healthcare. Given:
– limited direct contact patient- doctor before the procedure,
– choice of the clinic usually based on a small number of (often anonymous) reviews,
– lack of knowledge on how to choose a surgeon abroad and what to expect from him,
– lack of adequate preparation for medical travel,
– different quality and standards of healthcare around the world
it is very likely that complications occur more often to medical tourists. But it doesn’t mean that they happen to every or even a significant number of medical tourists.
I believe that we are not entitled to draw final conclusions yet and what’s more important we shouldn’t judge anyone’s decisions.
How to find a good plastic surgeon abroad? Click
What to pay attention to while choosing a plastic surgery clinic abroad? Click
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