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Travel Risk Management: Sick Abroad - FocusPoint

  Lisa Arredondo

Travelling is a way of life for me. I developed the travelling ‘bug’ when I was touring the country with my family going from one sporting event to another. It has been a long time since the days of riding in the back of my parent’s station wagon and drawing imaginary lines to delineate where my sister or brother could not cross. Nowadays, I find myself travelling for both work and pleasure and I could not be happier. The road warrior way of life suits me just fine.

Given that I am on a first name basis with the local TSA agents, it came as a shock that I let a simple travelling error almost kill me. I forgot the prescription for my antibiotics that I was taking while travelling to Florida. Normally, this is not a big deal considering that I was nearing the end of the regime. However, on this trip, the infection started to flare up. Exhausted, stressed out, and in need of medical assistance, I called my medical provider back home. Within minutes, a doctor sent over a prescription to a local pharmacy. I was relieved that I would feel better soon as I swallowed the dose of meds, but then things went from bad to worse.

The pill was penicillin. I am highly allergic to penicillin. Immediately, I called my doctor and went through what had happened. New prescriptions were sent over. Then I realized that I might have to be admitted to a hospital as a solo female traveller and that hit me hard. I was going to need my employer’s travel assistance program (CAPTM) quickly if things continued its downward trend. I pulled out my CAPTM travel assistance membership card and placed it on the nightstand. I did not have the slightest clue as to what was a reputable hospital and where even to go. What I did know is that my CAPTM membership would have this information. They would triage my medical situation, transport me to the hospital, provide a medical bedside advocate to make sure my care was being properly performed and then transport me to my home hospital of choice if needed. It made me feel more secure knowing that I was not alone and that I would not have to worry about the cost of these services because they were covered through CAPTM.

Luckily, I am sitting at my desk, two weeks later writing this blog. When thinking back, that one small error caused a tremendous amount of risk in my life and cemented a couple of thoughts for me:

  • Mistakes happen – even the most experienced make them
  • When travelling alone, you are at the mercy of others, so be prepared and take precautions
  • Call and ask for help from your travel risk management provider
  • Remember your prescriptions
  • Imaginary lines still exist – only now I draw them on airplane armrests


Wishing you safe travels in the New Year and if you see me at the airport, give me a wave.