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As business and leisure travelers get back out on the road—or plan to in the near future—preparation is critical to navigate the unfamiliar territory of experiencing an illness or injury abroad. 

Most travelers have a checklist of items they run through before they set off on their journey. Passport. Tickets. Hotel reservations. But what happens if they run into the unexpected in a foreign location far away from home? That is a curveball many of us do not prepare for. Yet, one out of every five travelers becomes ill while on the road, as reported during a recent Global Guardian webinar.

A traveler who may fall sick or get injured, for example, will likely struggle to locate a reliable medical facility. Identifying good quality treatment is a challenge in an unfamiliar city, but it is an even bigger challenge if the traveler is in a remote area. Even once a medical facility has been located, there is the very real prospect of running into a language barrier and the unfamiliarity of dealing with local bureaucracies, rules, and procedures. If a traveler sustains a serious injury and needs to be evacuated to receive good medical care, that’s an additional challenge (and cost). On the other hand, a traveler who has proper duty of care does not have to worry about these things.

“In the absence of a duty of care provider, a traveler is likely to end up wasting a lot of time in a foreign location looking for medical care, trying to ensure that it is of good quality, all while facing a medical emergency that may or may not be life-threatening,” says Dr. Shelly Weisenfeld, medical director at Global Guardian.

A Changed World

Travel is picking up in most parts of the world after a long, pandemic-induced hiatus—in fact, six out of 10 Americans are planning to travel this summer, and of those planning vacations, 35% plan to travel more this summer than last, according to the US Travel Association. “But the world into which travelers are venturing is very different from the one that existed prior to the global health emergency,” said Weisenfeld. She says the possibility of new COVID-19 variants, as well as travel restrictions, and global health care systems that have been stretched means getting medical care while traveling in a foreign country is more complicated than ever.

The Advantage of Using a Provider

AdobeStock_258560360_feature-1A duty of care provider like Global Guardian offers an employer the satisfaction of knowing they are doing everything to protect their most valuable asset—their employee—and offers the employee peace of mind while also making them feel valued.

There are many advantages to using a duty of care provider. “We support our clients in the lead up to their trip, in the event of a medical emergency while they are traveling, and once they have been discharged from medical facility,” said Weisenfeld. Global Guardian provides this support through a team of U.S.-based, board-certified physicians and an international network of partners that extends to over 130 countries. Unlike most of its competitors, who drive or fly teams into foreign countries during a crisis, Global Guardian’s vast local network gives it its edge.

Most travelers in a foreign location are unaware of the services available locally. A duty of care provider has this information on its fingertips. “In Global Guardian’s case, this information is on our app, known to our Operations Center agents, and available through our local networks,” said Weisenfeld. 

“We provide employees of our corporate clients—as well as family clients—with up-to-date travel safety and health-related information, assess their medical needs in real time, and, through our team of U.S.-based board-certified physicians, guide them on receiving proper medical care while on the road,” she added.

Tips for Travelers

Nine out of every 10 questions Global Guardian receives from clients before they travel relate to immunizations. The answer varies from country to country and may often change. Global Guardian helps its clients navigate this maze, ensuring that they meet all the requirements. With the pandemic, rules about quarantine, masking, and vaccinations that vary from one country to the next—and sometimes from one state to the next—have added a layer of complexity.

Yet, while some things may be out of a traveler’s control, there are others that they can, and should, prepare for. Here are some handy tips for travelers:

  • Check vaccination requirements at your destination before you travel and ensure all your vaccinations are up to date. Store your immunization record in your passport and keep copies in your luggage.
  • Pack a first-aid kit that includes things like Tylenol/Motrin, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, rehydration tablets, Dramamine, and Imodium. Consider your destination as you put these kits together. What you may need on a jungle safari may not be useful when visiting a big city.
  • Carry all your prescription medicines, including a list of medications in case you need a refill. Always pack more than enough prescription medicines and keep them in the original container provided by your pharmacy. In dire circumstances, a duty of care provider can help. Global Guardian, for example, was contacted by a client who had forgotten to take their hypertension medication along on a business trip to Israel and needed help filling the prescription. We verified the prescription with the home pharmacy, identified a pharmacy near the client where the medication was available, and since the client was in a country that allows for a foreign-based physician to facilitate the transfer of the prescription, our team transferred the prescription to the local pharmacy in Israel. In countries like India, for example, which do not allow foreign-based physicians to write prescriptions, our local network of doctors wrote prescriptions for clients during the peak of the pandemic in that country.
  • Pack medications in more than one piece of luggage just in case bags are lost or misplaced, including keeping them handy in carry-on luggage.
  • Consider bringing a translated copy of important medical information, such as allergies, medications you’re taking, etc, if traveling to a country where you do not speak the language.

GG_2022 Medical Webinar Recap v1-11


How Global Guardian Responds


Global Guardian’s teams are experienced at handling a wide range of medical conditions—from upper respiratory infections to gastrointestinal distress to fractures and even cases of COVID-19. When a client facing a health-related issue contacts Global Guardian’s 24/7 Operations Center, agents first determine the severity of the case. The Operations Center then contacts Global Guardian’s physicians who review the client’s symptoms and make a professional determination on the next steps. 

“In one instance, when a duty of care client traveling for business in Japan fell sick, we brought a local doctor to their hotel to provide care,” said Weisenfeld. “In more serious cases, our physicians can determine whether the client requires medical evacuation.” 

Global Guardian’s local partners help clients overcome any language barriers they may run into when they arrive at the hospital or need to communicate with a paramedic. “In such instances, Global Guardian offers translation services, as was the case with a client who required hospitalization for chest pain while traveling in Europe,” said Weisenfeld. In that case, Global Guardian’s local, vetted translation partners translated the client’s medical records into English allowing U.S.-based physicians to review them and assist in coordinating medical care. Global Guardian also dispatched a translator to the hospital so its physicians could communicate remotely with the onsite physician. “As a result of this collaboration, our physicians were able to coordinate between the hospital and the client’s family and ensure all the necessary information about the patient’s diagnosis as well as plan of care was properly understood. Once a client is discharged from hospital, we can help them obtain their medical records as well as medications,” said Weisenfeld.

The high level of service Global Guardian provides, in coordination with its network of international partners, takes a huge burden off clients and their employees in these uncertain times.


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