Hospital Selection - Tips for the Overseas Traveller
Researching the quality and capabilities of hospitals at your destination is essential. The most common emergency you will face overseas will be a medical emergency.
Incorrect hospital selection may at best result in sub-standard care and at worse leave you with illnesses or injuries that you never had in the first place.
Some Doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have health insurance - so be prepared for this contingency if your research reveals that this is the case in your situation.
Try to find a top class hospital that is close to your accommodation.
A Google Earth search will identify hospitals that are near your hotel.
International Hospital Selection Checklist
- Designated international patient care centre (preferred)
Most major capitals will have at least one hospital with an international patient division. They are experienced in treating foreigners (english speaking staff) and also facilitating transactions with insurance companies and medical evacuation providers. If you are able to discover which hospital Embassy staff use then you will have (generally) located the best hospital.
- Medical Evacuation and Repatriation (essential)
Many first class hospitals will offer a medical evacuation service through a local medical evacuation provider who provide aircraft on call 24 hours a day. Check if your travel insurance also covers you for medical evacuation and who the provider is.
- Sufficient Bed Capacity (essential)
A hospital with a bed capacity over 400 is preferred as it indicates it has a surge capacity in the event of major disaster.
- Private suites (preferred)
Whilst most first class hospitals will offer private suites for patients who have travel insurance (or can afford it), if the hospital provides a high standard of shared facilities that you are comfortable with, a private suite is not essential.
- Operating theatres (essential)
Surgical capability for major trauma (vehicle accident, gunshot wound etc) is absolutely essential.
- 24 hour emergency and ambulance service (essential)
Because emergencies don't only occur during working hours!