None of us likes to think about it, but death following elective surgery or a procedure happens. If it happens while you are overseas, it can be particularly traumatic and difficult for your survivors. Whether you have surgery in Miami or Mumbai, here are some things to do to prepare:
1. Be sure you have a living will and a durable power of attorney. These documents, describing who is your surrogate and empowered to make medical decisions if you are unable, are extremely important for those taking care of you. If you travel overseas for care, be sure to bring a copy that can be included in your medical records. Include the names and contact information for those who should be contacted in case of an emergency.
2. Consider how you will return the body to a designated place. Discuss this with your provider and identify options before you need them
3. If you have life insurance or survivor benefits, check with your insurance agent or company to confirm that your policy will cover events that occur outside of your home country.
4. If you are using a medical tourism facilitator, discuss with them how they can help you handle the situation and what kind of contingency plans they have in place.
Fortunately, postoperative deaths are unusual for most elective procedures. Should it happen, however, you should have a plan in place to minimize the stress of dealing with an already difficult situation.
Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer