Medical tourism and the best interests of the critically ill child in the era of healthcare globalisation

Neera Bhatia*, Giles M Birchley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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In this article, we examine emerging challenges to medical law arising from healthcare globalisation as it pertains to disputes between parents and healthcare professionals in the care and treatment of critically ill children. We explore a series of issues emerging in English case law concerning children’s medical treatment that we posit are signs of increasing globalisation. We argue that these interrelated issues present distinct challenges to healthcare economics, clinical practice and, above all, the operation of the law. First, social media leverages the emotive aspects of cases, establishing a multinational network of actors around them, secondly, the internet provides unfiltered information about novel treatments and access to crowdfunding to pay for them. Finally, the removal of barriers to global trade and travel allows child medical tourism to emerge as the nexus of these issues. All these aspects of globalisation have enormous implications for medicine and the law, yet child medical tourism has been little examined. We argue it affects a range of interests including children’s rights, the rights of parents as consumers, and the interests of society in communalised healthcare. Identifying putative solutions and a research agenda around these issues, we contend that, while cases involving critically ill children are often complex and emotionally fraught, the interconnectedness of these issues means the law must engage and respond coherently to the impacts of healthcare globalisation in all its guises.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfwaa029
Pages (from-to)696–730
Number of pages36
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2020

Structured keywords



  • Children
  • Best Interests
  • Innovation
  • Social Media
  • Healthcare
  • Child Medical Tourism
  • Disputes
  • Globalisation


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