Tips For Traveling Abroad: What To Do If You Have A Surgical Emergency?

Tips For Traveling Abroad: What To Do If You Have A Surgical Emergency?

At this time of year it is possible to think about vacations and plan a trip abroad, either as a couple, with friends, as a family or alone.

Although the exit is full of good omens and wishes to spend a few carefree days, nothing frees us from having to go through some unexpected moment that requires immediate attention.

For this reason, with the advice of Dr. Alberto Ferreres, Surgeon, from the Argentine Association of Surgery, they bring us some recommendations to take into account in case of having to resolve an emergency surgical situation while abroad:

1) Personal characteristics of the traveler.  It is important to know the personal and pathological history. For example, a young person is not the same as a traveler over 70 years of age, with a chronic pathology and a recent surgical history. In the same way, traveling individually is not the same as traveling with a guide, for example, where there is permanent support. If there is a recent surgical history and in the face of a prolonged trip, it is more than advisable to interact with the attending physician, who can make prior recommendations in the event of any unexpected circumstance, as well as provide warning guidelines. Likewise, said professional may offer suggestions of institutions or colleagues known to him in the face of any eventuality.

2) The language in another country.  Adequate communication at the destination is important in the event of any inconvenience. This will facilitate the solution of administrative procedures as in care itself.


3) The area in which the trip will take place: There are areas (cities and/or regions) that have infrastructure and services fully developed and prepared for any unforeseen health event, while if the traveler plans a vacation period that includes “trekking” or stays or excursions in remote areas or far from centers urban, for example, it will be essential to have medical coverage abroad. It is important to know the characteristics of the contract, amounts covered, possible limitations and caps or refusals of coverage (for example: injuries compared to the practice of extreme sports). It should be known that in some countries the cost of emergency care for travelers has a different value than in our environment and on many occasions, it will impose additional costs that will be borne by us.

Now,  how should one handle a surgical emergency situation abroad? The first point will be to define and know the emergency situation and in general the definition of surgical emergency corresponds to a medical professional. Many hotels usually have an emergency medical service and this professional may be the one who makes a first approach to the case. Faced with the possibility of a surgical emergency, the rule is usually referral to a hospital or sanatorium institution.

It is also advisable to contact the contracted medical service and follow the stipulated steps, since they can provide some additional advice. A fracture of a limb is not the same as an acute myocardial infarction requiring immediate balloon angioplasty or acute cholecystitis.

In the first case, the immediate solution may consist of immobilization with a cast or boot and eventual transfer for definitive treatment in the country, which will result in a much lower cost of care. In other circumstances, surgical treatment is imposed with the consequent postoperative hospitalization.

What do you need to know about health care coverage?

Many times, the various international coverages will require the notification of the affected member to the emergency center for different reasons: knowledge of the situation, arbitrate means to arrange evacuation or transfers to specialized or recognized centers, supervision of the care provided, facilitate transfers and/or or accommodation for relatives or companions, therefore it is important that said communication is made.

With regard to coverage, it is known that they can be contracted locally in the country, some are granted as a benefit of credit cards, with different amounts of coverage and there is also the option of contracting international companies with individual policies and adjusted to the interests of the traveler and with different comprehensive coverage values. The important thing to take into account will be the economic impact due to costs and following the guidelines established by the contracted insurance.

How should the people accompanying the patient handle themselves?

This will largely depend on the length of time that the treatment and postoperative recovery take. It is always advisable to remain calm and help with the resolution of procedures and other bureaucratic details. Language management is an immeasurable advantage.

What will the days after and the return to normality be like?

The aspects to take into account are: the magnitude of the procedure to which he was subjected, the existence of complications, the possible compromise of mobility and the necessary discharge for the respective return air transfer. In all cases, the medical professional who followed the matter will be the one who makes the decision that the patient is not in danger and ensures her return with total normality.


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