New guidance for patients considering travelling abroad for surgery has been published by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
With a marked increase in the number of people choosing to travel abroad for surgery, surgeons across Ireland have begun to see increasing numbers of patients admitted through emergency departments with complications of surgery undertaken abroad.
The guidelines are aimed at helping people to understand and manage the greater risk involved in having an operation in another country.
The guidelines outline the particular issue with air travel which, especially in the days and weeks after surgery, increases the risk of developing ‘blood clots’ such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the leg and/or pulmonary embolus (PE) in the lungs. This is particularly concerning following lower limb surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement surgery, and can even lead to life-threatening complications.
Professor Deborah McNamara, Vice-President, RCSI and consultant surgeon in Beaumont Hospital said, “surgery always carries some risk but travelling abroad for an operation may add additional risk. Patients should ensure that they are fully informed taking that decision and they should not assume that the normal safeguards that apply to surgery and surgical procedures undertaken in Ireland are automatically in place in other countries.”
“Surgeons understand and share the frustration experienced by patients who face long delays in accessing hospital beds for surgery. RCSI continues to advocate on behalf of our patients and works with the HSE to improve access to surgical services in Ireland.”
The guidelines outline a number of specific steps patients should take while considering their options. These include:
- Discussing the decision with your general practitioner.
- Ensuring you are fit to travel/fly before and in particular, after surgery.
- Considering if you need to bring someone with you to assist you and, if necessary, care for you once you leave hospital.
- Asking for a detailed written record of the procedure and aftercare plan.
- Ensure your doctor is appropriately qualified to perform the surgery and to deal with problems that might arise afterwards.
- Ensuring that your surgery takes place in an accredited hospital
The guidelines can be found here.