Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2020

Publication Citation

27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 347 (2020)


For centuries, tourists have visited lands near and far in search of experiences unavailable in their home countries. From golfing the best courses in the world, to yoga retreats in remote locations, many tourist activities provide experiential opportunities along with health and wellness benefits. Currently, an increasing number of individuals are opting to cross international borders to receive medical treatments, often at reduced costs. While many scholars use the term health tourism to encompass all health and wellness travel purposes, this note uses the term medical tourism to distinguish tourism for the specific purpose of medical treatments or procedures. Medical tourism is considered one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors and is creating significant growth in economies across the globe. Like other developing areas of study, initial studies have only scratched the surface of medical tourism. Rather than analyzing these trends from a different perspective, this note draws on patterns from various nations to propose new methods of protecting patient rights, namely the right to sue in the event of medical malpractice abroad. Specifically, this note will propose the establishment of personal jurisdiction over accredited international healthcare facilities by way of an accrediting US organization. Part I will discuss the origins of medical tourism, explain how and why medical tourism became a booming industry, explore the intersection of medical tourism and medical malpractice, and discuss general principles of jurisdiction. Part II will analyze and compare policies from around the world-including the United States, Brazil, South Korea, and Thailand-concerning medical tourism, cosmetic surgery, and medical malpractice litigation. And finally, Part III will analyze the benefits of and advocate for Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, automatically establishing personal jurisdiction over foreign health care providers and facilities for litigants to bring suit in the United States; then provide a secondary proposal of the JCI serving as an appeals board for medical malpractice claims occurring at JCI-accredited healthcare providers.