Preparing for medical repatriation: what’s involved

Medical emergencies abroad are something none of us like to think about, but when they do happen, it’s an anxious time for everyone involved. In most cases, people want to go back to their own country as soon as possible for better care or so the patient can recover near loved ones. Those responsible for arranging the journey home (also called medical repatriation), are often faced with many questions. How can the patient travel safely? What about medical records? And much does it all cost?

Preparing for medical repatriation

In situations like the above it’s hard to know how to plan and where to start. The challenges and risks can seem overwhelming, but when staying abroad is not an option the pressure can cause incredible stress and added trauma. Many people turn to their embassies or insurance companies as a first port of call, but often don’t find the support they want. It’s good to know that medical repatriation companies like EMS are here to help, either by taking the entire problem out of your hands, or by talking through your situation and offering advice on the different options, so you can make the best decision for you.

Arranging a medical transport

There is a lot to consider when you’re arranging a medical transport.

  • The logistics of the transport itself as well as travel for other people involved
  • Medical care, medication and equipment
  • Complications
  • Hospital admission back home
  • Transfer of files and reports (translation if necessary)
  • Cost

Engaging an experienced service like EMS, can often make all the difference. When you contact us, we listen to you to get a good understanding of your situation. We help you think through the risks and the different ways a repatriation might take place, and can advise you on the type of transport that would be best to ensure things are medically safe.

Medical repatriation services

If you decide to engage us, we take care of every detail, from beginning to end, so you don’t have to worry about the details or liaise with multiple contacts. We take on all communication both with the foreign hospital and the hospital of your choice back home. We look after all paperwork, including translation if need be, and make all the travel arrangements, if desired also for family members or friends travelling separately from the patient.

Our medical team will come to you and conduct an independent medical assessment to confirm the diagnosis and ensure the patient is fit to travel. They bring all equipment and medication needed with them and accompany the patient every step of the way.

At EMS we offer three main types of medical transport: by long distance road ambulance – this is often the most comfortable and most convenient way for patients to trave l- and if a transport by road is not an option we offer repatriation by aeroplane, be it with a medical escort on a commercial flight or on a dedicated air ambulance. Depending on the mode of transport and the patient’s condition, it’s sometimes possible for others to travel with patients. If not, our office team will stay in contact with updates throughout the journey, so you’re kept informed.

When we arrive in your home country, we take the patient to their destination hospital where the office team will have secured a bed for them, and we won’t leave until a successful handover has taken place and all the paperwork is signed.

Looking after yourself

When a loved one is suffering in hospital abroad, it can be hard if you’re in a holiday setting. Many people experience guilt and feel they need to be in the hospital even outside visiting hours. However, it’s important to recognise that this is a traumatising time for everyone involved and that you need to look after yourself too. Not just for you, but also because your wellbeing will impact your ability to support your loved one, now and throughout their recovery. Although it can feel hard to prioritise time for good meals, rest and relaxation, in the long run it will help – not just you but the patient as well.


If you would like to talk through your situation and find out about your options, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form to request a free quote – without any obligation – to get a clearer picture of what’s involved.

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