Surgery Abroad: Legal Uncertainty When Things Go Wrong


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Traveling to another country is fraught with dangers and could lead to illness, healthcare complications and injury through botched surgical procedures. Before initiating the travel to receive such surgery or treatment, it is important to consult with a legal representative to determine if there are other concerns or specific uncertainty that may reach a resolution through a lawyer.

Part of the legal uncertainty when engaging in medical tourism is that the individual may not have any recourse if the country’s laws are in contradiction or to dissimilar to those in the United States. This could lead to the victim having no option to seek compensation when a botched surgery occurs. He or she may need to invest more money into recovery in his or her home country. Then, the entire situation may cost more than initially determined by the person. In certain instances, the individual may have legal recourse he or she may seek, but this will depend greatly on success in the courtroom and then the application on the foreign government, agency or entity.

The Medical Tourism in Surgery

When a person travels internationally to a country where he or she will receive the surgery, he or she engages in medical tourism. Often, this is to ensure that cheaper options are taken advantage of when available. Some individuals seek surgery in another nation because it is not offered in the United States. Certain moral or ethical matters are not a problem in the country chosen for the procedure. Additionally, others want to have the treatment completed in another location in the world because the quality of healthcare is better than in the home country. However, there are many instances of botched surgical procedures that leave the person injured grievously.

Medical Tourism Risks

When a person may suffer through a botched surgical procedure, he or she may risk his or her health and mental state after the damage occurs. This risk is standard, but the risk of any failure to recover may also increase depending on if the United States medical care system will ensure that treatment may reverse the damage or assist in aftercare. Other financial risks may exist when the surgery does not go as planned. If insurance in the foreign country does not exist for the procedure, the patient may need to return home to attempt to resolve the matter. Then, there is the risk he or she may not have any legal recourse based on the legal system of the foreign nation.

Travel risks may increase when the person is unable to leave the country until he or she recovers enough for safe movement. If the botched surgery affects other areas than the damaged parts of the body, risks for illness and severe health conditions may increase significantly. The ability to leave the country may face restrictions if customs and immigration authorities do not permit the person to fly or board a ship while injured. This will cause additional expenses and complications to health and wellbeing if no further medical treatment is available. The American citizen may need to contact a legal representative to return home at this point.

The Need for Legal Action

The most standard form of litigation against other is the need to pursue legal action due to injury. A botched surgery usually leads to this outcome, but it is more difficult to accomplish with an overseas doctor or healthcare provider. It is important to consult with an international lawyer. Additionally, the patient may need to contact legal services while still in the foreign nation. Some claims may only begin when the individual has not left the location where the incident occurred. The injury itself may contain only one aspect of why compensation is necessary. If the damage caused additional problems such as the inability to leave the country or additional costs due to more treatment, the patient may need these expenses paid by the other party.

Legal Recourse in Botched Foreign Surgery

When the procedure ends in disaster, the patient may need to consider his or her options. In these circumstances, it is critical to know what laws exist in the foreign country. If they are close enough to those of the United States, legal recourse is often possible. After researching the mater further, the person needs to hire a lawyer to determine if any action could occur. Holding the foreign doctor or healthcare provider responsible is complex and difficult with many different factors.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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