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Is it possible to make a medical negligence claim abroad?

1st May 2023 Print

When you have an accident or become ill and you don’t receive adequate medical care, it can be distressing, especially if it happens when you’re on holiday. In this article, we’re answering the question, ‘is it possible to make a medical negligence claim abroad?’

Suffering a case of medical negligence can be devastating at the best of times. This can be even more stressful when it happens abroad.

As travel resumes following the lifting of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a medical negligence claims solicitor may find claims being made by Brits abroad could increase. In this article, we’re explaining how you can make a medical negligence claim abroad. 

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence - or medical malpractice - is the term used when a person does not receive adequate care from a hospital or a medical professional, or receives a misdiagnosis. Medical negligence can occur through incompetence, by accident, or simply because a medical professional was not exhibiting due care and attention when attending to a patient.

In some cases, medical negligence can cause life changing injuries or conditions, and even death. After suffering medical negligence, patients or their loved ones will often seek the services of a solicitor to help them to claim compensation to pay for equipment and ongoing medical care. 


Is it possible to make a medical negligence claim abroad?

The short answer to that question is yes and, in this article, we’re going to explore this further.

These days, huge numbers of people regularly travel abroad for holidays, for work or specifically to receive medical and cosmetic treatments such as dental care. Wherever you are in the world, you are entitled to receive expert, compassionate medical care.

However, different countries have different standards and procedures which we’ll look at here:


When in Europe, British residents are entitled to medical care at the same cost as residents of the country that they are in. For Brits, this means that medical care is likely to be free or at a minimal cost, and is likely to be of a similar standard to that in the United Kingdom. 

Making a claim in Europe

Whether you’ve suffered an injury or illness while on holiday, or you have specifically travelled to a European country for medical or cosmetic treatment, you can make a claim if something goes wrong. This can include: 

- Care following an injury caused by a slip or fall 

- Care after a sporting accident

- Care following surgery, including cosmetic surgery

- Competence and care during dentistry

In the first instance, you should contact a medical negligence solicitor in the UK who will be able to walk you through the process and advise you of the likelihood of a claim being successful. If you decide to go ahead, your solicitor will liaise with the hospital or healthcare professional with a view to reaching a settlement which may include financial compensation.

United States of America

Healthcare in America works a little differently as, for the most part, residents pay for their healthcare through employment-based insurance payments. Because of this, it is vital that you acquire medical insurance before travelling to the USA as, otherwise, you may find yourself faced with a bill for thousands of dollars in the unfortunate event that you required medical care during your stay.

Medical care in the USA is known to be of an extremely high standard. 

Making a claim in USA

If you have suffered medical negligence or malpractice while in the USA, you will need to be able to show evidence of the following in order to bring legal action: 

1. A professional duty owed to the patient

2. Breach of such duty

3. Injury caused by the breach

4. Resulting damages. Money damages, if awarded, typically take into account both actual economic loss and noneconomic loss, such as pain and suffering.

If you are able to provide proof of the above, your next step is to research medical negligence solicitors in the UK who have extensive experience of making claims against American hospitals and medical professionals.

Litigation is big business in the states and, therefore, doctors and hospitals usually have teams of lawyers to protect them. However, in a lot of cases, a hospital will prefer to settle quickly and quietly in order to avoid any negative publicity. 

The rest of the world

Depending on where you are in the world, standards of medical care - and how they are paid for - can vary widely, as can your avenues for successfully making a negligence claim. Before travelling, it's always a good idea to do a little research so that you know what to expect should you become ill or suffer an injury whilst in a particular country. 

Medical Negligence Whilst Abroad: You’re Not Alone

When travelling abroad, a visit to a doctor or hospital is not something anybody looks forward to, but something that everybody should prepare for. In the event that this does happen - and that visit results in an illness or injury caused by negligence - it can be extremely distressing. In most cases, you should have the right to make a claim against the perpetrator.

Across the globe, billions of dollars are paid out by healthcare facilities every year as a result of medical negligence or malpractice. Securing an experienced medical negligence solicitor should be your first port of call following such an event.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical/legal professional. Be sure to consult a medical/legal professional if you’re seeking treatment or legal advice. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

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