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.

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