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The Price of Medical Tourism: The Legal Implications of Surgery Abroad

Davison, Steven P., M.D., D.D.S.; Hayes, Kylie D., M.B.A.; LaBove, Gabrielle, B.S.; Shaffer, Peter, B.S.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: October 2018 - Volume 142 - Issue 4 - p 1075-1080
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000004816
Plastic Surgery Focus: Special Topics
Press Release

Summary: Medical tourism, or traveling abroad to obtain medical services, has evolved into a global health care phenomenon, with over 15 million U.S. patients each year seeking medical care internationally, representing a $50 billion dollar industry in 2017. Speculation and media fascination about the growing industry, diverse destinations, and rationale behind the medical tourists is rampant; however, the legal implications of tourism medicine, particularly when it goes wrong, are often unclear. On the international stage, accreditation agencies are limited in scope and practice, legal jurisdiction is difficult to establish, and the enforcement of rulings is nearly impossible. Patients seeking tourism medicine have little legal recourse and shoulder all the legal burden.

Washington, D.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Baltimore, Md.

From Georgetown University School of Medicine; Howard University College of Medicine; the University of Arkansas School of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine; and the Carey School of Business, The Johns Hopkins University.

Received for publication July 20, 2017; accepted March 6, 2018.

Disclosure:The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Steven P. Davison, M.D., D.D.S., 3301 New Mexico Avenue, Suite 236, Washington, D.C. 20016,

Copyright © 2018 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons