While injuries often cannot be predicted or prevented while traveling, there are steps that can be taken to make the experience easier.
1. Carry your medical information and current prescription list with you. If traveling abroad, having the appropriate translations pre-prepared will be helpful.
2. Know your limits. Many vacation injuries occur when people sign up for an activity outside of their skill set. A classic example is renting a motor scooter with no experience on a motorcycle/scooter previously.
3. If an injury occurs, seek help immediately from the local emergency system. Many people want to wait until they get home to seek care; this puts them at risk to miss key interventions in the setting of an emergency. For example, if you have a fracture, ensuring that the area of the body is stabilized before you travel home is important.
4. Know your insurance carrier’s network and policy on out-of-network care before you travel. This will make scheduling office visits and emergency evaluations easier when seeking care out-of-town. Also, there will be less surprise at the future medical bills.
5. Know your insurance carrier’s policies on transferring care between cities. In the setting of major trauma with lengthy inpatient stays, patients often want to be transferred home to be near support networks and their own doctors. This is very costly when done out of pocket, and understanding your options will make the process much more streamlined.
6. When flying back home with an injury, it is important to combat poor circulation on long flights to avoid complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Passengers are often sedentary and immobilized, which potentially increases the risk of clotting. Some preventative measures include blood thinning medications, which would need to be prescribed before the journey home.
Dr. David S. Wellman is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of fractures and post-traumatic reconstruction. He has particular interests in articular fractures (bone breaks near major joints), injuries to the pelvis and acetabulum, and fracture non-union and mal-union. These interests also motivate his research work outside the operating room.