What is the significance of Including your primary care doctor in your travel medical decisions?

Because you have a relationship with your primary care physician and he or she knows your history and has had a professional relationship with you over many years it’s important to include this person in your decision-making. Part of the reason for including your primary care physician in your decision-making as it relates to medical care being sought abroad is that he or she is familiar with you and is incentivized to steer you in one direction or another. The recommendations will be solely based on what is in the best interest of you and your health.

What is important to note is that for various reasons complications can occur upon returning home to your original country. You may need extensive follow-up care on return. This situation can be very problematic for your primary care physician upon your return. It may be necessary just to monitor the course of an uneventful recovery however problems can arise when confronted with the fact that returning medical tourists often do not have records of the procedures that you underwent and/or the medications that you received nor contact information for the foreign health care professionals who provided the services. When your primary care physician at home is asked to make right what went wrong when you have experienced complications as a result of the medical travel, this can be very difficult and problematic. The reason is, if your primary physician has not been previously informed about your plans or about your travel or your procedure and he/she has not been a part of the decision-making process.

Some of the risks involved in travel overseas for medical care as mentioned involve the post treatment care which will then be the responsibility of the medical care system in your home country under your primary physician. If your physician is not willing to assume this responsibility, then you may have to return to the country that provided the medical care initially. This could obviously pose a lot of problems for you. Other concerns are that foreign laws governing medical liability are not as strict as those in the United States which is one of the reasons why their costs are so low, but this could leave you with limited recourse for compensation if medical malpractice is suspected. Additionally, there is no one to complain to because many of these physicians over in other countries are not regulated by the same organizations and boards that your primary care physician may be.

Lastly, having a team to coordinate your care that has worked with the physician and team who provided your care to begin with cannot be emphasized enough. Preferably if your physician had been involved in the decision-making process in the beginning this following through afterwards especially with coordinating care with the doctors in the foreign country, this could provide a seamless course of care upon your return.


Healthcare beyond borders