Mobilizing Volume: Trauma, Surgical Skill, and Clinical Tourism in South India


This article considers the ways in which the concept of volume is deployed to create and sustain surgical expertise. Drawing on research at a large plastic and orthopedic surgery hospital in Tamil Nadu, India, I explore the ways in which a steady supply of trauma is converted into medical expertise, reputation, and care. Volume functions as a key metric by which this conversion takes place. This hospital is particularly well known for its cutting‐edge treatment of severe trauma, and, while some Indian hospitals have used their combination of low cost and high expertise to attract foreign patients for medical tourism, this hospital has converted its supply of trauma patients into surgical expertise that brings foreign surgeons there to learn. This article therefore also considers the role of visiting foreign doctors in this form of clinical tourism.