Minimizing the Risks of Medical Travel


Medical Tourism can make a procedure that is out of reach at home a real possibility. Hundreds of thousands of Americans every year step a little outside their comfort zone to save on their health care costs, get procedures unavailable in the United States, or to cut their wait times and get into a clinic. However, medical travel comes with unique risks, which according the US Center for Disease Control include surgical complications, exposure to pathogens, and blood clots. We are going to look at each of these specific risks in turn and what steps we can take to reduce them.

Surgical Complications

Medical procedures carry risk whether you are in Miami or Medellin.  Surgery carries the risk of scarring, loss of sensation, hematoma, and in some cases can even be fatal.

The best way to ensure that you have a successful procedure is to make sure that your surgeon is properly accredited by the appropriate national or international organizations and has experience performing your specific procedure. Also, it is in your best interest to ensure that your procedure is performed in a hospital setting with an intensive care unit rather than inside a private clinic. If you experience complications in a hospital setting, you will have a team of specialists with the necessary training and equipment to assist you.


International travel can expose you to pathogens uncommon at home. You can be exposed to these bugs during your travel, during your stay, or in the hospital. This risk is magnified if your immune system is compromised or suppressed.

There are many steps you can take to reduce your exposure to pathogens. In transit, you can consider the use of a facemask and make a point of washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer. At your destination, you can exercise an abundance of caution by drinking bottled water rather than tap water and opt to eat at restaurants rather than buying food from street vendors.

To avoid complications at the hospital, again, selection of your surgeon and your facility is paramount. While looking for a physician, you should ask what sterilization procedures are in place to ensure your safety and to give you some peace of mind.

Continuity of Care

Undergoing a procedure outside of the United States and away from your primary care doctor may complicate your continuity of care from your surgery through your recovery process. Fortunately there are several steps you can take to minimize this risk.

First, you should have a conversation with your primary care doctor and let them know that you are going to undergo a procedure outside of the United States. After your consultation with your physician at your destination country, you should ensure that they have all the necessary information to go forward with your procedure. Lastly, you must ensure that you have copies of your medical documentation from your procedure for when you return to the United States.

During your recovery, most complications occur soon after surgery. For this reason, it is important that you follow the recovery instructions of your physician. This generally includes refraining from returning home prematurely, exposure to the sun, or using the pool until you have the green light from your doctor. When you do return home, checking in with your primary care physician or engaging in telemedicine with the physician who performed your surgery is strongly advised to ensure your recovery is as smooth as possible.

Medical tourism is an excellent tool to make health care more accessible. By taking these steps, you can minimize the risk that you are exposed to and ensure the positive outcome that you want. If you are looking for some additional support in your journey, our team at Apollo Medical Travel is here to help.

Leave a Reply