It is a significant case because it could set a precedent for other patients who wish to sue a clinic or medical tourism company after going abroad for treatment. Rather than sue in Belgium, the legal firm involved have decided to sue the clinic in the UK courts where they might expect higher payouts if they win the case. Laurence Vick, the solicitor who is representing the patient, is a medico-legal expert and specialises in clinical negligence claims. (Coincidentally, he and I were undergraduate students at the same college, many years ago!)
- See the Independent news story: Woman sues in UK over Belgian face-lift
The question of who to sue in medical tourism cases is one that faces any patient where surgery abroad doesn't work out as it should. Is surgery abroad any riskier than surgery in the UK? No one knows.... because there is no comparative data. But the answer is probably not. Nevertheless, any surgery carries a risk. Cosmetic surgery is not risk free, so there are going to be cases of alleged clinical negligence where the patient will pursue a legal action. Medical tourism companies need to be aware of this test case, particularly those that have a UK presence. Rather than sue the surgeon or the hospital in the destination country, the patient may opt to sue the medical tourism company in the UK.