surgery in another country
April 16, 2019 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have personal experience with having elective surgery in another country? There are a couple I have looked at including Thailand and India. Taking money and or insurance completely out of the equation, what are things to know and understand?
posted by jtexman1 to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend had an experimental surgery out of country that turned out to have a rather unique and rare complication (that ultimately was one of the reasons it was never approved here). It wasn't fatal but did require long term monitoring and care. The surgery cost and everything was good and she doesn't regret it, but she does have difficulty getting proper follow up care because it's unique and she had spent alot of time explaining her medical history over and over.

She says she'd do it again but it's still a long term hurdle.

Language barriers if something goes wrong is a huge one. You want to make sure that you have an understanding of what is happening, and ASAP. Chosing a county where you have some understanding makes this hurdle less, but knowing what translator services they have, who speaks your primary language etc is important.

Surgery of course has risks. Normal risks like infection no matter where you go, make sure your comfortable with staying longer and getting follow up care in the country if something happens before you can return.

Your recovery time is important to concider if you will need assistance before you fly back. Who will provide that? Recovery is hard work.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:27 AM on April 16

I can't speak for Thailand, but some of my family who live in Sri Lanka have elected to go to India for various surgeries - kidney stones, cataract surgery, even transplants.

Find out which hospitals/ surgeons are the best for the type of surgery you want to have. The quality of care in India can be outstanding in the right hospitals. Make sure you have a local support system in place - preferably someone who is from your home country, if possible, who can handle your matters at home from afar in case your post-surgery recovery is long. Also have someone local you can trust, who speaks the language, and can talk to nurses and other staff with an understanding of what's going on.

Prepare to stay for two to four weeks after your surgery in case of complications or prolonged recovery (also why you may need someone with you.)

It's not an easy thing to do for someone who's not familiar with the country, but in my opinion, if you can set up support for yourself, it might be a cheaper option with the same or better outcome as if you did surgery here (assuming your home country is the US.)
posted by Everydayville at 11:56 AM on April 16

Check out the post-operative complications situation - not all end with the patient 'living happily forever after'. I read a lot of horror stories of people who go to these countries for ops, and suffer life threatening, or life changing, aftereffects. Check your status with your medical insurer in the event you need medical/hospital treatment arising from the overseas procedure.

Personal anecdata is virtually worthless in this situation - look for investigations into your proposed procedure, from the likely candidate country(ies). Never had to do it, so I have no idea what might be available.

You might also look into other first world countries where you might be able to get full fee paying treatment. Bound to be more expensive, but you will get first world treatment. I presume you are in USA? Just about anywhere will be cheaper (if what I read is accurate).
posted by GeeEmm at 10:56 PM on April 16

Thanks everyone. Yes I am in US. I am potentially looking at knee replacement. It never dawned on me to look at a facility here that accepts cash. Definitely worth investigating
posted by jtexman1 at 6:18 AM on April 17

Surgery in India: pick a hyper-specialized facility and you're getting the advantage of a team of surgeons who do the procedure dozens of times every single day. Literally, for things like bypass surgery: 14,000+ cardiac surgeries in a year at Narayana Hrudayalaya.

In this case, practice makes perfect, and you can get a super-premium experience if you're willing to pay (a small amount in foreign currency) more for it.

Oh, and here's Aetna's page on medical tourism.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:01 PM on April 17

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