What are the risks in medical tourism?

Travelling to another country for the primary purpose of medical care is known as medical tourism or health tourism. It is a booming industry and is expected to touch the mark of $100 billion pretty soon. However, medical tourism is not all about attaining better medical facilities at a cheaper cost, there are also many risks involved. Patients and patient parties’ opting for medical tourism to a foreign country should be well informed about the involved risks and they should make a well informed choice.  This article aims to inform about the risks that comes with medical tourism and should be thought of before making the final call.

Medical risks

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  • Medical tourism has a high risk of nosocomial infections, commonly known as infections acquired in the hospital. Reuse of needles or handling of stitcheswithout maintaining proper hand hygiene can work as a source of new infections, causing moderate to severe problems in recovery. Reuse of needles can even result in transmission of deadlier viruses like HIV from one patient to another.
  • Infections from new viruses are a major risk of medical tourism. Noroviruses, which is a common cause of gastroenteritis, has prevalence in many prominent medical tourism destinations. So, if you belong from a country that has minimum norovirus cases, there are chances of acquiring new norovirus infection due to medical tourism.
  • In case of cosmetic surgeries, mycobacterial infection poses the maximum medical risk and the risk is enhanced in case of medical tourism to a place with hot and humid environment where these bacteria thrive even better. General infection at the place of the surgery is a common risk associated with medical tourism.
  • According to reports, cases of “tissue rejection” after successful transplantation have a higher rate for medical tourists compared to other transplant patients. This is one of the major risks of medical tourism as it can be fatal for the patient.
  • In many countries with popular health tourism, blood is collected from paid donors and is not often screened properly. The unscreened blood can work as a direct source of fresh infections in the body that can increase the risk of operation to a higher extent. It can work as a source of fatal conditions like HIV and others.
  • Travelling over a long distance after a complex surgical procedure adds to the risk of medical tourism. Long distance traveling after surgery can cause thrombosis in the veins and pulmonary embolism that can be difficult to treat. However, drinking plenty of water and proper medications can be used for reducing the risk effectively.

Legal and ethical risks

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  • It is the right of the patients to take informed decision; it is also a primary concern in medical ethics. However, in case of medical tourism the risk of wrong or misleading information is much higher. Informed consent can be highly influenced by inappropriate information and collecting the right information to take a proper and informed decision might be challenging in the scenario of medical tourism.
  • Standards of medical ethics, particularly for specific processes, vary from country to country. A treatment that is considered to be at the experimental stage in a country can be used as an established process in another. This difference in standards becomes a major concern particularly in cases involving organ transplantation and other new medical therapies.
  • High legal risk is also associated with medical tourism. In case of post-operative complications, medical tourists are not left with the scope to seek damage under medical malpractice lawsuit because of the involvement of more than one jurisdiction. Proper legal solutions in case of any legal dispute related to medical tourists have not yet been established, thus adding to the legal risk of medical tourism.


  • Communication can be a major problem adding to the risk of medical tourism. Receiving care from a medical facility where hardly any one understands the language of the patient can result in misunderstanding and even wrong treatment.
  • Follow-up care, which is essential for most of the major surgeries, can be highly difficult for medical tourists. In most of the cases, these patients are referred to their local medical facilities for further care. Difference in medical practices between the country where the surgery has been performed and the country where the follow-ups are being carried out can result into unwanted complications.

Best summer travel tips

If you are considering medical tourism for your treatment then taking a note of the risks involved in it is essential, because that might help you to take extra precautions in the particular aspects. Though the list of risks involved in medical tourism is not very small, it should not stop you from availing the best treatment facilities through medical tourism. You can easily mitigate the above risks by availing treatment from a renowned super specialty hospital that has a good reputation in the market.

When you avail the treatment from a reputed health care center popular for medical tourism, you are most expected to get the best treatments from the best doctors and care givers. These centers also maintain the best facilities to ensure complete treatment of their patients. So, if the risks involved in medical tourism are making you think twice about your decision, instead of worrying, make it a point to avail the treatment only from a highly reputed and recommended health care facility to ensure the best results and minimum risks.

The best health care facilities will always ensure that their patients get all the right information from the very beginning of their treatment to make an informed choice. They also take the best care to ensure that any risk related to the treatment is mitigated and if needed, they always provide follow up services over the web and mail. So here the key to avail the best medical tourism facilities while mitigating the risks lies in choosing the right health care center and you can do that only through thorough research.

So, before you opt for any health care center in the world for medical tourism, always do your research and settle for the very best hospital that comes in your budget.