High risk of overtreatment on popular holiday destinations


This summer, SOS International expects to help most Scandinavians on holiday in Spain, Greece and Turkey. The acute personal help company estimates that the risk of overtreatment is especially high in private clinics and hospitals in these particular countries.

When Nordic travellers use their travel insurance on their summer holiday and need emergency treatment due to illness, injuries or accidents, most enquires are from Spain, Turkey and Greece. These are the Nordic tourists’ favourite holiday destinations, but they also top a more disappointing list. SOS International sees a tendency towards overtreatment in these countries. 

 “Overtreatment might occur in private hospitals and clinics abroad and might be anything from unnecessary blood samples and scans to emergency operations of ligaments or fractures, which would never be performed in a Danish hospital,” says Poul Crone, doctor at SOS International, and he fights to prevent the overtreatment. Experience shows that even the less serious forms of overtreatment might destroy the travellers’ precious holiday. “If a clinic, for instance, prescribes that the traveller must return for unnecessary checks that affects the holiday of the entire family and might create unfounded concerns,” he says.                                                      

Turkey tops the list
SOS International estimates that the risk is highest in Turkey: “Generally, we see a great number of overtreatments of tourists that need medical attention in Turkey, and we estimate that it either has happened or overtreatment has been attempted in 40% of all enquires from Turkey,” says Poul Crone. Furthermore, compared to Spain and Greece, SOS International also finds that Turkish private hospitals attempt a greater degree of gross overtreatment in the shape of ill-advised operations, which a Nordic doctor would not recommend.

In comparison, SOS International estimates that in Spain attempts of overtreatment occur in 30-40% of the enquires, while in Greece the attempts of overtreatment occur in 25-30% of the cases, if the emergency services are not contacted in time.

Call the emergency services
It is extremely important that travellers always contact their travel assistance service, if they need medical attention on their holiday. Here, a Nordic doctor and an assistance coordinator will follow their case closely, explain what will happen and ensure correct treatment through direct dialog with the doctors on location.

SOS International is determinedly working towards preventing overtreatment and has through several years had a particular focus on Turkey, Spain and Greece. SOS International has local offices in both Greece and Spain. The closer contact with the hospitals and clinics helps preventing the problem. In Turkey, the acute personal help company has strengthened the cooperation with the local partner and has engaged independent Turkish doctors, who follow medical treatments and admissions to ensure correct treatment.

Facts: Overtreatment in Spain, Turkey and Greece

  • Overtreatment does not occur in public hospitals, but the problem is connected to private clinics and hospitals in certain countries and often in tourist destinations
  • Overtreatment might be anything from unnecessary blood samples and scans to gross overtreatment such as unnecessary operations
  • Avoid the risk of overtreatment by calling the emergency services instead of asking for directions to a doctor at the hotel reception. Hotels in tourist areas often have an agreement with a private clinic and get paid to send tourists there.

In total, SOS International helped 10,800 Nordic travellers with a need for acute help during the summer of 2017.

Contact us

Are you travelling and in need of acute assistance?

Contact SOS International's alarm centre on +45 7010 5050.

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