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Illness or Injury Abroad

Nobody plans on getting sick, but that doesn't mean you have to let illness take you by surprise. Here are some helpful hints to help you deal with illness and injury while abroad.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Understand the basics of the country’s medical system. Visit UC Trip Planner to find information and travel tips specific to the country or region you will be visiting. Ask someone who has been to the country you’re visiting about what to expect if you ever do find yourself in a local hospital. Knowing the country’s treatment and insurance practices is a huge benefit.

Have an idea of the best hospitals or medical centers in your region so you know where to go in the event of an injury or illness. If you don’t know where to start looking, use the resources provided on the CDC’s Getting Health Care Abroad page or the State Department’s Your Health Abroad page.

Carry a copy of your medical information. Have your basic medical info on the card, such as about your blood type, allergies, medications you take. Keep this card in an easily accessible place, like your wallet. This is especially crucial if you have serious allergies that doctors might need to know.

Make sure you have and understand your insurance policy. UC Travel Accident insurance provides evacuation assistance or medical support during political turmoil or medical emergency. For more information about insurance, visit the Insurance page.

Learn some basic medical vocabulary. Hospitals may have someone who speaks English, but having at least some basic medical vocabulary written down somewhere may come a long way.

If you are a medical student, take the time to find out more about the infectious diseases in the country you are visiting. See The Elective Pack: A Medical Student’s Guide to Essential International Health and Development.  

While You’re Abroad

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where medical attention is necessary, stay calm and seek help.

Get medical help. Check with your health insurance provider if you have coverage outside the United States. Remember to carry your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. If you’re not sure about what your plan covers, get in touch with your insurance company. Overseas insurance plans can be restrictive about what they pay for. In the case of an emergency, contact your travel insurance as soon as possible.

UC business travelers who become ill or who are injured should contact United HealthCare Global via the numbers provided at registration. They have agents available 24/7, can refer you to care in the area, and can facilitate local interventions as well as having a person onsite if that is needed.

If possible, contact your supervisor or departmental manager before receiving care so that they are aware of the situation and can help out as needed.

Last updated: 8 Dec 2016