Need to Go to the Hospital on a Trip Abroad? Here's What to Do

man in hospital with doctor and nurse

Medical emergencies can strike at any time, but it's particularly daunting if you need to go to the hospital while you're traveling abroad. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to make the experience easier, from packing the right things before you set off to making sure your health insurance coverages are in order.

Getting the basics right means you can concentrate on the most important thing: your recovery. And, if you have travel protection for your trip, it’s good to know what services you can make use of to help you get through these situations smoothly and tips for getting your medical costs covered by your plan.

What to do in the event of an unexpected hospital trip abroad:

Preparing for the hospital

Had an accident or feeling sick? The first thing you should do is seek medical help. If it is an emergency, call the local equivalent of 9-1-1.

Find out where the nearest local hospital or medical clinic is; checking on Google or with a hotel concierge are likely the quickest ways. You could also contact your local embassy or local tourist board for advice as a last resort if you still can't find anything.

If you have a travel insurance plan from Generali, you should call our 24-Hour Emergency Assistance Services team which will help get you to local qualified doctors. If additional medical services are required, we can consult with the attending physician and provide assistance services in your best interest.

Or, for smaller medical issues you could use our Teladoc virtual doctor service.

Before you set off for the hospital, you may want to take a change of clothes, some basic toiletries (a comb, your toothbrush and toothpaste etc), your phone charger and adaptor plus a book to keep you occupied. There could be a lot of waiting around for any procedures or referrals and even to be seen in the first place. Bring one of your travel companions to help you (whoever has the best grasp of the local language) and let a loved one back home know that you're seeking medical help.

Also read: Why You Might Need to Buy Medical Coverage Before You Travel

Staying calm

It's understandable that you might feel anxious about going to hospital abroad. But it's important to stay calm and positive, especially if you are having to go on your own. Take some deep breathes while en route and close your eyes for a few seconds if you can to reduce outside stimulation and lower your stress levels.

Take one step at a time, compiling a checklist (even just a mental one) and ticking off each action will keep you on track. Once you're at the hospital, focus on your recovery—you'll soon be either better or.

Also read: How Travel Insurance Can Help with Medical Evacuation

man talking with doctor holding papers

When you arrive

It’s best to contact your insurance provider when emergency transportation and services are needed, however if you have a travel insurance plan and haven’t already contacted the company, now is the time to do so.

If need be, request a translator or a medical professional who can speak your language. If there isn't one available, having a translation app on your phone is incredibly helpful. It's far easier to get the treatment you need if you're not worrying about the language barrier. With a Generali travel insurance plan, you can even get interpretation help as part of our 24-Hour Emergency Assistance Services.

Stay calm and describe the problem as carefully as you can, listing all symptoms and pain you feel. You may want to take notes so you can accurately recall what the doctor tells you.

When you have a moment to yourself after speaking to medical staff, consider giving your doctor back at home a call.

Also read: The 6 Top Travel Emergencies and How To Deal With Them

man with broken leg in hospital

Prepare for every eventuality

Hopefully, you bought travel insurance to help cover medical bills that may now arise. Some countries may offer state-run healthcare but most will expect you to pay for at least some, if not all, of your medical treatments up front.

Contact your travel insurer immediately via their emergency helpline as soon as you go to the hospital, or sooner if possible. We suggest you have these contact details with you on your trip. Store them on your phone and in your wallet for good backup. You can call Generali’s emergency line collect 24/7 around the world at 240-330-1529.

It's also vital to make sure you hold onto any receipts, doctors' notes or other medical documents for when you're filing your insurance claim. Read more tips for filing a travel insurance claim.

Follow these steps and your hospital trip abroad should go a bit smoother and you can get on the road to recovery.

Read more: Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Travel Insurance

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