Receiving medical care outside Canada

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

Medical tourism

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

They may be seeking:

The term for this is “medical tourism.”

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Health risks of medical tourism

All surgical procedures involve some degree of risk and these risks may be higher in hospitals outside Canada. Medical practices, health standards and infection control measures may be different abroad. 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 to consider related to treatment abroad

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

Before you go outside Canada for medical treatment

Discuss your plans with your main health care professional in Canada, before booking your travel or procedure. Consider their advice before making any decisions about having a medical procedure abroad. Make sure:

Also discuss the:

You should also:

Prepare ahead of time

In addition, consult with the health care professional who will be carrying out your procedure abroad. Review the specific risks related to your treatment and travel plans.

Check the credentials of anyone who will be providing medical care for you.

Thoroughly research the facility where your procedure will be performed.

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

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 professional for any follow-up care.

Pack essential items in a travel health kit. 

Returning home from medical treatment abroad

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 returning home.

Review everything with your health care professional 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, 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 abroad, discuss testing for blood-borne infections with your health care professional.

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

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