Receiving medical care outside Canada

Travellers from Canada may have to access medical care in other countries due to a medical emergency as a result of an injury or illness.  However, they may also travel outside Canada to receive specific medical care, known as “medical tourism.”  

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Medical tourism

Medical tourism is the term used for travellers who go to another country for medical treatment. While most procedures go as planned, there can be complications.

Before considering going to another country for a medical procedure, gather the information you need. As with medical procedures in Canada, there are always risks.

Some people choose to go to other countries for reasons such as:

They may be seeking:

Health risks of medical tourism

All surgical procedures involve some degree of risk. These risks may be higher in hospitals outside Canada. Medical practices, health standards and infection control measures may be different in other countries. This could result in lower quality medical care.

Consider that:

Financial risks of medical tourism

If you are seeking treatment outside the country to save money, complications or unplanned aftercare could result in greater costs than having the same procedure in Canada. 

Warning signs

Remember that medical tourism is at your own risk, so beware of:

Before you leave Canada for medical treatment

Discuss your plans with your primary health care provider in Canada before making any decisions about having a medical procedure in another country.

You should discuss whether:

You should also:

Before you go outside Canada for medical treatment, read the Travel Advice and Advisory for your destination.

Prepare ahead of time

Consult with the health care provider who will be carrying out your procedure at your destination to review the specific risks related to your treatment and travel plans.

Check the credentials of anyone who will be providing medical care for you. Most countries publish this information on an official government website.

Thoroughly research the facility where your procedure will be performed. Find out whether it is accredited by the country’s state or federal body responsible for regulating health care. Do not go to an unofficial medical facility. See the Health section of the Travel Advice and Advisory for your destination for information on medical services and facilities there.

If you are considering undergoing a procedure that is not offered in Canada, look into why it is not offered here.

If you still choose to go:

Understand what care you will need after the procedure. Before you leave, make arrangements with your Canadian health care provider for any follow-up care.

Pack essential items in a travel health kit. 

Returning home from medical treatment outside Canada

Get copies of all medical records related to your procedure to bring back to Canada. This documentation will be important if there are complications after you return home.

Review everything with your health care provider when you return, including:

See your health care professional immediately if you have any signs of infection after you return, such as:

Have a medical exam when you return to Canada especially if you suffer from a chronic illness and have noticed any changes in your condition. This includes such illnesses as:

If you had injections or blood transfusions while you were in another country, discuss testing for blood-borne infections with your health care professional.

For at least 12 months after you return, tell any health care professional you consult that you have received medical treatment outside of Canada.

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