ASA guide for medical tourists

Posted: April 21, 2010 in Health
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I saw a short article on the website caleld International Medical Travel Journal which bills itself as “The World Leading Journal for the Medical Travel Sector”. That’s quite a claim. I always become a little skeptical when sites make those kind of claims while at the same time plastering Adsense ads on their site, but that’s another story.

This story says that the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has produced consumer guidance for American patients, urging them to ask the right questions when considering traveling internationally for surgery. Seems like a good idea. Let’s see if a hidden agenda becomes apparent, because so much of the stuff I have read by American doctors and health care professionals contains many attempts at spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about seeking treatment overseas.

The first point in the guidance is to ask the question “Have I involved my local doctor in my decision-making?” That sounds like a good idea but in practice it likely fails to be useful. So often your local doctor knows little about international medical centers and you will hear comments about risks of treatment in “third world countries”. This kind of stuff comes from doctors who may not even have the same level of training as those “third world” doctors, or whose medical facilities don’t have the same level of certification. When I first traveled to Thailand I asked my doctor about health risks and immunizations needs. He gave me a crazy list of things I needed to do and vaccinations I should get. After living here for many years I now know he was clueless. I think he just gave me some list from the CDC, which is a pretty poor statement about the CDC’s awareness of health issues worldwide.

The rest of the list from the ASA seems pretty reasonable. Things like considering pre and post surgery care, contingencies if there are complications, and doing a good job of screening healt care provider credentials, all seem like obvious stuff but good to have in a list so they aren’t overlooked.

Ok, so do your due diligence, but if you ask your local doctor questions be sure to ask what his/her background and knowledge are regarding major hospitals in foreign countries because it might be a lot less than yours.

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