When it comes to traveling, the old saying "you do not prepare to fail, only fail to prepare" certainly has a lot of relevance and none more so than when it comes to medical treatment.
We can purchase all the insurance premiums salesmen will want to throw at us, get all the vaccines and stock up on all the mosquito sprays, vertigo tablets and sun creams but when it actually comes down to it and something goes wrong - potentially seriously wrong, in a foreign country, how many of us would immediately know what to do? Do you know, for instance, how to say Hospital in German? Or Ambulance in French? Do you know the emergency services telephone number in Thailand? Would you immediately know how to find a doctor whilst overseas if you needed to?
How do you find a doctor overseas?
1. Check with your insurance company
It seems quite obvious but many people purchase insurance as a "must have" and don't think about ever actually needing to use it and, afterall, they are there to help you out in sticky situations. That's what we pay them for. All of them should have hotlines ready for you to call in the event of an emergency and offer the most up to date information possible to help you out in your specific situation. It also helps when it comes to paying for care, a lot of insurance companies have conditions to be met if they are going to cover your costs, so save their number and start with a call to them.
2. Online reviews and information
It's always a good idea once you arrive in country to take a quick browse online and find out what other travelers have done or read the local information pages to find out what to do if something goes wrong - also to find the best possible health service in the area! Sites like Healthgrades
can be super useful in helping understand the availability of care on offer. 3. Ask a Local
Of course in the event of an emergency your instincts are likely to take over and you'll ask just about anyone around you for assistance so it seems quite an obvious thing to consider but it is worth stating that local knowledge is second to none. It's probably a better idea to ask staff at nearby establishments as there is a better chance that their English will be of a higher standard.
4. Apps and Services
There are a bunch of services and even apps now available to help with finding English speaking doctors overseas. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM
) and the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT
) both have tons of advice and a directory of known English speaking doctors throughout the world on their super resourceful websites. Also now available is the Doctor in Your Pocket
app which helps you find local, house call and virtual doctors to assist you should anything go wrong.
So now you know how to manage a medical situation if you find yourself in one overseas, the best medicine is of course preparation and taking care of oneself! Not finding yourself in a medical emergency is better than knowing what to do if you do.
Do you have any more tips and advice on what to do should you need a doctor overseas? Let us know in the comments below.
P.S. Hospital in German is
Krankenhaus, Ambulance in French is Ambulance and the emergency services line in Thailand is 1169!