The rising costs of healthcare in the United States for many people means that one substantial injury could result in bankruptcy. For example, in New York, a replacement hip can reach over $100,000 when you add the costs of a hospital stay and treatment. Many people are looking to overseas medical procedures to avoid these high costs.
While health consumers may be able to find costs savings overseas, there are many legal rights that patients might forfeit by having surgery abroad.
What rights do Americans have if they have a bad overseas procedure?
There are limited rights that Americans have against a negligent overseas doctor because the jurisdiction of American courts extends only to American borders. If something goes wrong in the procedure abroad, the patient can try to hire a foreign lawyer who knows the local laws to pursue damages against the doctor; however, medical liability may be less strict in some countries than it is in the United States.
If injured, patients may only be able to recover the cost of the surgery in many cases, and the process of hiring a foreign attorney to pursue these claims is often complicated and expensive.
When Americans have medical procedures done abroad through the assistance of a medical tourism agency, though, there may be more avenues to pursue legal recovery. Any company incorporated in a state in the U.S. is subject to that state’s law and authority.
Harmed patients, therefore, may be able to bring claims against that company or their insurance provider. There are many theories of negligence – including corporate negligence and vicarious liability – that an attorney might use to pursue legal action against these companies to establish liability.
If you suffered harm during an overseas procedure and believe you can bring a claim against a medical tourism agency that arranged your procedure, make sure you maintain any paperwork or contracts that you sign with the agency. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible if you think you may be involved in a legal dispute to help protect your rights.
What can you do to protect yourself from faulty overseas procedures?
More than filing claims against agencies after a problematic procedure, it is important for patients to do their due diligence before going abroad to have surgery. The more the patient knows about the doctor and the agency arranging the surgery, the safer they may feel in having the surgery.
Among the questions the patient should ask are:
- Who is performing the procedure?
- What are the doctor’s qualifications?
- Does the agency have malpractice insurance?
- Has the agency been sued in the past?
Even though medical tourism agencies may be liable for complications arising from foreign surgeries, there is no guarantee of compensation. Additionally, these agencies may not be automatically liable and may only be liable if they fail to exercise reasonable care. Talk to an attorney if you’re unsure of liability of a medical tourism agency and whether you have a valid case.
Gacovino, Lake & Associates is prepared to help evaluate and pursue legal options if you suffered injury because of medical malpractice overseas. Call us today at (800) 550-0000 for a free consultation and assessment of your case.