Medical Attention Getting Lost in Translation

Even the most intrepid traveler fears getting sick or injured in a foreign country. If you’re planning a trip abroad, I hope you’ll find this guest blog post brought to you by Sanford Brown interesting.


photo by Jamiesrabbits/flickr

It’s probably your number one fear: having the wrong medicine administered to you or the wrong leg amputated or something like that…all because some Italian or Japanese-speaking orderly misunderstood the ailment being described in a second-hand translation. Never fear. Medical coding is a universal system, and so long as you come prepared with enough information about yourself, the medical professionals who will assist you will be relying on a system that is numerical and therefore nearly impossible to screw up. You won’t be the first or the last English-speaking patient they’ll encounter especially if you’re in a city with a lot of tourism.

Emergency Expenses

Most industrialized nations operate under a nationalized single-payer healthcare service which is funded by taxes and covers all citizens and a few temporary visitors on visas and so on. While most nations aren’t going to allow international travelers the right to free specialist visits, if you’re severely injured or sickened your emergency care costs are almost always likely to be covered by a nationalized service. This is the case no matter who you are, so you can count on it as a tourist.

Quality of Care

If accidental medical mistranslation doesn’t frighten you, the thought of having to undergo an emergency triple bypass in a drippy basement with low lighting in a faraway land probably does. Due to the recent healthcare battles in the U.S. you may or may not have already heard about this, but did you know that American healthcare is ranked 37th worldwide by the World Health Organization? That’s behind countries like Morocco and Colombia. Popular points of tourism like France, Spain, and Japan are above the United States in ranking. Rest assured your healthcare will most likely be some of the best in the world wherever you go.

Don’t let unsubstantiated fears of the state of foreign healthcare get in the way of an unforgettable journey abroad. Chances are the healthcare you’ll be most disappointed in will be your own back home.

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