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What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism refers to travel to another country, for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment in that country.

Increasing numbers of Australians (perhaps 15,000 a year) obtain medical treatment overseas in an effort to reduce costs, particularly in the area of cosmetic surgery. There are Australian companies which offer medical tourism, specialised travel insurers and support from some private health insurers.

Whilst data on adverse medical tourism outcomes is limited, some quite serious complications have been reported in the media.

Compensation may be available for medical tourism surgical or post-operative care errors, when something goes wrong during, shortly following or as a result of surgery, which could reasonably have been avoided.

Can I claim?

Treatment error does not always amount to medical negligence. To do so, it must be shown that:

  • in making the error, the medical practitioner did not exercise reasonable skill, care or expertise; and
  • the error caused harm or injury to the patient, beyond the underlying condition the patient was being treated for. 

Situations can also occur where the risks of surgery are not properly communicated to a patient, causing a patient to undergo surgery they would not have had if they had been made fully aware of the risks involved. In such circumstances, if the undisclosed risk materialises, causing damage or injury to the patient, the patient may be able to sue the doctor or hospital for damages.

Get advice

Medical negligence is a particularly complex area of law and any potential claim must be investigated thoroughly. Medical tourism adds to the legal complexity of a compensation claim.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers is the world’s largest consumer law firm, with offices in Australian and the United Kingdom and the capacity to provide advice on medical tourism claims.

If you have been injured  or suffered damage as a result of a treatment error and you think that you have a medical tourism compensation claim, submit an enquiry via the contact us form or call us.