Twelve Healthcare Tips for Tourists by Maria Hioni (Μαρία Χιόνη)
Summer is here and many are preparing to go on a long deserved vacation! While packing suitcases and planning itineraries, the last thing on a person’s mind is: What happens if a medical emergency arises?
With over 17.5 million tourists visiting Greece every year, Dr. Paterakis , a general practitioner on the island of Crete, has encountered a great number of problems with his foreign patients that could have been prevented . From his experience, he has provided the following list of what foreign travelers should do before and during their vacation.
1) Invest in a good travel health insurance policy. Take the time and read the fine print before signing.
2) If you have a chronic health problem, ask your personal doctor for a detailed written report of your health record and the medicine that has been prescribed.
3) Learn about the healthcare system of the country you plan to visit and how it works in case you need to use it.
4) Inform your personal doctor of the country you intend to visit. He might have to change the dosage of your medication or advise you of any special precautions that may have to be taken.
During your trip:
5) Since prevention is the best medicine, try to avoid having accidents. For example, many tourists rent ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) without having driven one before. This might pose a health risk.
6) In case you do need a medical practitioner, ask the hotel receptionist to recommend one to you. They usually collaborate with experienced doctors. The embassy or consulate of your country may also be able to provide some assistance in this matter, often in the form of a list of recommended healthcare experts.
7) Remember to tell the doctor all your symptoms, any allergies you might have and the medication you are using. If there is a travelling companion with you, take him/her along with you to the doctor.
8) If there is a language barrier ask for a translator.
9) Follow the instructions given by the doctor, especially if he or she requests diagnostic tests to be done.
10) Ask for the doctor’s mobile phone number, in case a problem arises and you need to contact him/her.
11) Ask for a full medical report of your diagnosis and therapy from the doctor in order to have for you to keep it in your personal records. Do not forget to ask for a receipt so you can receive compensation from your insurance company.
12) If the doctor requests a follow up, do so even if you feel better. Inform the doctor of the date of your return flight and inquire if you will be ready to travel.
Remember, as well, not to wait too long before seeking professional help. A health setback, depending on the problem, does not mean that your vacation will be totally ruined. With proper medical attention, a tourist can soon be on the beach again, enjoying all the pleasures Greece has to offer.
Maria Hioni teaches Medical English Terminology and Communications Course at the School of Foreign Languages at the University of Athens.