Recently in my own little world I joined up with a group of fellow patients and members of the medical and scientific community to talk about stem cell tourism. It was both interesting and informative. The debate could only go to further progress but there are a couple of points I want to make.
First, medical tourism is dangerous. Normally when you seek medical attention in a western, developed society you can be confident that there are policies and procedures in place to safe guard patients. When you go overseas you cannot be sure that you can be afforded the same assurances that you receive at home. Even if you travel to another developed country you may find that the practices are a little different so you have to be on your guard.
After saying that though, if you haven't found the right answers at home looking overseas is a strong option. You just have to be careful. You are not going to be afforded the protections you receive at home so you have to be 100% responsible for what you undertake. This means studying the procedure, the doctor in charge and key medical staff and the facility you are being treated in. Even a little study into the host country and city and their culture is a good idea.
Unfortunately there are a lot of charlatans and snake oil salesmen out there who just want to peddle false hope preying on peoples desperation in order to make a fast buck. If you don't do your homework it could be very easy to fall victim to these monsters. It is also important to note that these underhanded tactics are not just the domain of overseas operators, they can also happen at home so practicing due diligence is important anywhere, just a little more so when you want to go overseas. It is also important to recognise that you can also receive some of the best treatment in the most unlikely destinations.
The second point I want to make is that I really have a disliking to the name "Medical Tourism". When I think of tourism I think of morally casual 20 something year olds tearing it up on a European Contiki tour. Being a tourist is not something you feel like when you seek medical treatment overseas. When I was receiving chemotherapy in North Western hospital in Chicago I guarantee you that the last word I would have used to describe myself is tourist. Maybe we could call it international medicine? Until next time, stay well:)