A friend of mine (American) is in Mexico (Playa del Carmen, near Cancun). She’s in extreme abdominal pain due to several chronic conditions (11/10 pain). She is near incapacitated at the moment because of it, wailing.

She does not have her normal pain medication, which is oxycodone. We’ve been to multiple clinics and hospitals in Tulum and Playa del Carmen but they don’t have it and seemingly can’t do anything for her.

The doctors here have tried to put a needle in her with other strong medicines, but her veins are too small.

She does not have travel insurance.

Where can she get oxycodone or find a decent hospital that can manage her pain?

Her pain is so severe that I think the only other option is medical evacuation. Does anyone suggest a smart way to go about this? I realize it can cost tens of thousands but at this point, what other option is there?

Perhaps evacuation to Mexico City, would they have advanced pain management there? How to go about this?

I’m on a plane now (from elsewhere in Mexico) to see her so have limited connectivity. I’d appreciate your ideas.

  • 12
    Your friend may be triggering alarm bells in doctors because this, from the bare bones of what you have written above, looks to be drug seeking behaviour, so doctors will be very very careful here - especially where a narcotic is involved. Her best option may indeed be to return to the US where she can get her prescription refilled.
    – user29788
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 0:47
  • 12
    And when you get to her please remind her that someone with a chronic medical condition should NEVER travel without insurance. Commented May 31, 2021 at 0:55
  • 7
    @will_durant my wifes a doctor, shes seen drug seeking behaviour, some of them can be extremely convincing - again, not saying this is the case here, but this is what the doctors will be considering. Fly her back to the US where she can be treated appropriately.
    – user29788
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 1:42
  • 11
    Just spoke to my wife, there are plenty of top tier pain relief that doesnt need intravenous application - morphine for example can be given subcutaneously, it doesnt have to be in a vein. Therefore the “cant get a needle in” raises even more alarm bells - you can always get a needle in for intravenous delivery, somewhere on the body, and in all cases for pain relief you dont need it.
    – user29788
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 5:30
  • 4
    Perhaps the Mexican doctors are actually trying to find out how to treat your friend's conditions instead of just administrating opioids to relieve the pain? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid_epidemic_in_the_United_States Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


Ended up going to an expensive private hospital, which put her on a rotation of drugs that provided some relief.

She was put in a public hospital before. They did not know about her (pre-existing) condition and could barely get a needle in her (they eventually managed). They only admitted her after she passed out several times, there's no guarantee you'll get a bed there. Extremely basic facilities, but the drugs they gave her seemed sensible.

Embassy was only able to provide a list of recommended private clinics.

Don't just have insurance; also have a way to pay. The private clinic we went to insisted on a $4000+ deposit when we checked in, and an additional ~$1500 per day. If you can't pay, you can't stay, even with insurance. It ended up costing about $2500 per night.

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