Medical Language Translation, Privacy
and Other Issues Related to Medical Tourism

Medical Document Translation Services for Medical Tourism

Language translation issues abound when patients and medical service providers don’t speak the same language. However, when patients engage in medical tourism, i.e. when they cross borders for medical care, various legal issues can arise – a fact made all the more complex since crossing borders adds a need for accurate foreign language translation and interpretation to the mix.

One issue is privacy. When receiving medical treatment in the United States, patients’ privacy is protected by HIPAA. When patients go to receive medical treatment abroad, they do not benefit from this protection. Since privacy is so often the basis of healthcare litigation, it is essential for patients to understand a particular country’s medical privacy laws. To do this, a foreign language translation is required. More so, if the patient’s insurance company is to cover the operation, the insurance company will require a foreign language translation of the provider’s privacy policy.

On the other hand, there are many medical tourism corporations based in the United States that organize a foreign medical care. When a person receives medical treatment abroad via the services of a U.S.-based company, they retain the privacy protections of HIPAA.

Another issue is malpractice. An essential step in planning medical tourism is to get a foreign language translation of a particular hospital or medical provider’s medical liability laws, as many countries do not allow for malpractice suits and severely restrict the bringing of such suits in the United States. In fact, if a malpractice suit is brought in the U.S., the Daubert-based standard of proof remains the same but becomes even more difficult to establish as the case must be evaluated on the standards of the foreign country. See U.S. v. Ingham, 42 M.J. 218, 226 (A.C.M.R. 1995); Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993); General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997); Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

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