The globalization of healthcare: implications of medical tourism for the infectious disease clinician.Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Dec; 57(12):1752-9.CI
Travel abroad for healthcare has increased rapidly; interventions include organ transplant; cardiac surgery; reproductive care; and joint, cosmetic, and dental procedures. Individuals who receive medical care abroad are a vulnerable, sentinel population, who sample the local environment and can carry home unusual and resistant infections, documented in many reports. Medical tourists are at risk for hospital-associated and procedure-related infections as well as for locally endemic infections. Patients may not volunteer details about care abroad, so clinicians must inquire about medical procedures abroad as well as recent travel. Special infection control measures may be warranted. Healthcare abroad is associated with diverse financial, legal, ethical, and health-related issues. We focus on problems the infectious disease clinician may encounter and provide a framework for evaluating returned medical tourists with suspected infections. A better system is needed to ensure broad access to high-quality health services, continuity of care, and surveillance for complications.