Need Medical Help/Advice for Mother-in-Law Visiting Kerala, India
January 8, 2019 3:43 PM   Subscribe

My 80-year-old mother-in-law is visiting a retreat center in Kerala, India, and she fell and broke her arm. We are seeking some advice/information/assistance.

My 80-year-old mother-in-law is visiting a retreat center in Kerala, India, and she fell and broke her arm. With the help of my brother-in-law, who is also there, she visited a hospital, and her arm was placed in a cast. However, she has been unable to get good anti-inflammatories and other pain meds, and we're also not sure that the care she was given was sufficient. Her wife back in the US is trying to get on the phone with my MIL's doctors to get advice, but in the spirit of gathering as much information and support as possible, we are wondering:

1) Can anyone here connect us with a reliable medical professional, or someone who could help navigate the Indian medical system, relatively nearby to where my MIL is? Here's the retreat center:

2) I have images (x-rays) from before and after the cast was put on. Would anyone here (a medical professional obvy) be able to look at those images and advise as to whether the proper care was given? Or maybe as to what next steps should be?

posted by MelanieMichelle to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: A new piece of information just in: She is complaining of numbness in her fingers.
posted by MelanieMichelle at 3:45 PM on January 8, 2019

Response by poster: More info: Dislocated elbow and fractured radius. She might need surgery? But the local hospital opted for the cast only.
posted by MelanieMichelle at 3:56 PM on January 8, 2019

Have you considered putting your mother-in-law on a plane and flying her home ASAP? Not sure why you’d trust our x-ray reading skills more than her current doctors. You might as well move her to a medical system that you trust.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am not a doctor. Get a doctor's opinion ( the US) on this.

That said. I'd say fly her out ASAP. I'm sorry to say but the quality of the medical system in India is very different from the US. I had something happen like this recently, and the advice we got in India was that we were fine. We decided to fly out immediately anyways and the surgeon (well respected, presenter at conferences, etc. surgeon) in the US said we needed surgery immediately and if we waited any longer (like, days) for the medically necessary surgery, I would not be able to walk on my leg for the rest of my life. It was by afar the right decision.

Also this is a surgery that you only want a top respected surgeon to do.

The only risk of flying are blood clots that are caused by internal bleeding. But that is a low risk and can be mitigated if she does certain things like certain medication and moves (for the ways to mitigate, a doctor should have recommendations).
posted by treetop89 at 8:06 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I sent you a MeMail with more details but my former colleagues run a company to help with exactly this type of situation. Here is a link: Both of the leads have been handling medically complicated cases for foreigners in India (with local treatment and/or medical evacuation) for decades. They are the best. Your mother-in-law is in excellent hands with them.
posted by whitewall at 8:46 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Does she have travel insurance? A family member broke her ankle in Mexico and their travel insurance covered all local medical expenses as well as the next flight back to the states where she was able to get better treatment right away. The insurance company handled everything.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:09 PM on January 8, 2019

I'm a doctor. (Not qualified to read x-rays, though.) Please fly her home asap. Numbness following a fracture is potentially very serious. I have second hand experience of the medical system in India through family members who live/lived there, and based on those experiences, I would not recommend staying in India for something like this.
posted by basalganglia at 3:13 AM on January 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Just want to point out that Thailand is a *lot* closer than a 20+ hour plane ride back to the US and there are excellent hospitals in Bangkok.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:00 AM on January 9, 2019

I agree she should be flown home if possible, but let’s not make assumptions about the overall quality of care in India. I’ve had terrible experiences of misdiagnosis, callousness, and over medication in the US, only to get balanced, thoughtful care for the same issues in India. It’s more about knowing which doctor and hospital to trust in each country, and just like I may not have enough of a friends-and-family network to assess that in the US compared to back home, that’s true of your mother in law (and other posters that have had or heard of bad experiences).
posted by redlines at 3:55 AM on January 10, 2019

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