Increase in medical tourism enquiries highlights risks of cosmetic surgery abroad

Posted: 04/08/2015


The Penningtons Manches cosmetic surgery team is currently seeing an increase in the number of enquiries from people with complaints about their cosmetic surgery after travelling to countries like France, Hungary, Bulgaria and Prague for their medical treatment. 

Medical tourism is a growing industry but is not without its problems. In a largely unregulated UK industry, it is not surprising that treatment abroad is no more regulated and, if things go wrong, there is often little recourse against the surgeons. People also do not appreciate the range of risks inherent in travelling abroad for such procedures and can often end up in very difficult situations. 

Before going ahead with such treatment, people should ensure that they know the answers to the following questions: 

  • Do you know who will perform your procedure and their expertise in that area?
  • Is the clinic or individual subject to any regulation?
  • Does the individual or clinic have suitable indemnity insurance cover in the event of a problem?
  • What are the potential risks of the procedure and likely outcome?
  • What follow up is available?
  • What resources are available in the event of a problem during the procedure?
  • Who covers the cost of any further / emergency treatment needed? 

If something does go wrong, potential claimants must seek legal advice about the countries in which they are entitled to bring a claim; whether there are any associated jurisdictional issues; the funding options available; and whether the time limits for bringing a claim are different to the UK. There are often difficulties with investigating a claim for overseas treatment and we may be unable to assist with an investigation because either a claim cannot be brought in the UK or the surgeon did not have adequate insurance in place.  

Amy Milner, an associate within the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “We always caution those thinking about going abroad for treatment and suggest that they seek advice from an accredited surgeon in the UK before even considering going abroad. More often than not, our clients have been through an awful time abroad and need to speak to someone who can advise them not only on the clinical negligence aspects but also on what bringing a claim abroad entails. 

"As bringing a claim arising from treatment abroad is far from straightforward, anyone looking to investigate a claim should use a solicitor with specialist experience in dealing with international as well as cosmetic surgery and clinical negligence claims.”


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