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Medical Tourism Nightmares

When people go on vacation, they may be looking to relax on a tropical beach or explore a historic city. However, some people go to another country specifically to get a surgical procedure done. Also known as “medical tourism,” patients seek out plastic surgery, dental work, or major surgery in a foreign country at a fraction of the price it would cost at home. However, when medical tourism goes wrong, patients may be facing disfiguring scars, medical complications, or even death. In some cases, they may be left with no legal recourse for the pain and damage caused.

Some of the most popular medical tourism destinations include Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil, Thailand, and Costa Rica. Americans, Canadians, and people from Western Europe travel to these countries for cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment, reproductive procedures, bone marrow transplants, and organ transplants. While some of these foreign health care providers can be world-class professionals, others may be untrained or non-accredited.

A woman in Australia traveled to Singapore for a cheaper facelift. When she returned home, she had nerve damage that caused the right side of her face to collapse, and the left side had permanent swelling due to an untreated hematoma, scar tissue, and hair left under the skin.

A New York woman went to Costa Rica for discounted plastic surgery. The patient suffered massive blood loss, requiring an emergency operation. She was sent home to the U.S. and told to return in a few months. After she landed, she had to go to the emergency room for a serious infection related to the surgery, requiring a skin graft from her thigh to repair a stomach wound.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning about traveling to the Dominican Republic for plastic surgery after 19 women from a number of states developed serious bacterial infections following plastic surgery. In one case, a 28-year old woman died from a pulmonary embolism after getting a tummy tuck at a clinic in Santo Domingo.

The Joint Commission International (JCI) is a U.S.-based nonprofit that accredits medical services around the world. According to JCI president, Karen H. Timmons, “the risks for patients traveling far distances for care can be significant. “Patients need assurance that their physician and health-care provider have the right qualifications and credentials. Patients must also understand the legal redress available to them.”

Medical costs in the United States may be higher than in other places. However, our legal system also provides for patients to seek compensation if they are injured due to a medical mistake. Physicians owe their patients a duty of care. If a doctor breaches their duty of care, injuring a patient, they may be liable for the damages caused. A patient injured in a medical malpractice case can seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medical mistake, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensated, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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