Medical Tourism is Risky

14 10 2010

Skyrocketing healthcare costs in the U.S. have been a boon to medical tourism, with eager patients globetrotting for anything from cosmetic surgery to organ transplantation.

These “medical tourists” often believe they will receive quality care at affordable costs, with the added benefit of recuperating in a vacation spot.  It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  That’s because it often is.  The quality care they seek may not be what they get.

There are several reasons to pause before packing, including ethical concerns related to organ and tissue donor sources, and legal and physical issues should one be harmed rather than helped by the procedure and follow-up care.

Another worry includes the potential for infection with a superbug that is resistant to most drugs.  Traveling patients could be bringing home serious infections along with their newly formed scars.

Currently, the number of identified cases of infection with a superbug in the U.S. is small.  However, the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria (the superbug) to grow in dominance is real.  There has been some success in treating these superbugs with an older drug (Colistimethate), but this drug has a number of toxic side effects.

Potential medical tourists need to ponder the risks, including exposure to a drug-resistant superbug that may not only endanger them, but also contribute to a global public health problem.



6 responses

14 10 2010
Dr Kadiyali M Srivatsa

The risk is universal. Patients who are colonised in their nose are not protected by pre-operative vancomycin nor cefazolin prophylaxis against positive MRSA cultures or infections, nor did the use of chlorhexidine scrub in the operating room,
Preventive measures, may not be enough. Only option is to be happy and contented with how you are and avoid surgical procedures. Once the infection occurs it is not only difficult to treat but also produce serious long term complications.

15 10 2010

surely it depends where they go? coming to a european country for treatment would be no riskier than being treated in the US, and certainly far cheaper. In medical treatments, the ‘you get what you pay for’ law doesn’t really apply when comparing industrialised countries with stable health systems.

15 10 2010

Good point!

15 10 2010

thanks for the blog visit, u have a great blog, we should link up. 🙂

11 10 2012

Good blog and raises valid questions that patients need to take in mind before making a decision to travel overseas. Checking the travel advisories from the govt is a good starting point.

29 11 2012
Treatment Abroad

Medical Tourism have many aspects. Risk is in every corner whether you go overseas or stay at your country. Remember that many people find solutions abroad with much qualified doctors sometimes for much harder and complicated procedures.. It is always recommended to do as much research as possible before ANY treatment or surgery.

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