Friday, January 14, 2011

Hospitalization Abroad

Last week I found myself in the hospital much to my surprise.  Fortunately, I am home, fine and all is well.  I am glad the several days of bed rest that resulted in a kind of urgent surgery are behind me.

I was expecting with all that time on my hands I would get a lot done and become very thoughtful, but I wasn’t.  Of course part of that is probably because I was thinking about my health and wondering when the whole ordeal would be over and I could go home.

I had been in the hospital before, and having worked as a hospital manager and healthcare consultant, I certainly knew what to expect.  I did spend some time thinking about people who are away from home and find themselves in the hospital.  It could make it more stressful for sure. 

All countries have good and bad hospitals, but thanks to international standards that try to mirror those in benchmark countries, you can often find equivalent, or in some cases better care than what you might experience back home.

When I was pregnant with my son three years ago, people would often ask if I was going to return to Istanbul or the US to deliver.  My take on it was always that babies are successfully delivered throughout the world.  With no signs of any risk, there was no reason for me to go anywhere else.  While family and friends in either place would welcome me if I wanted to do that, I wanted to be in my home as soon as possible after delivery.  A long flight just seemed like an added stress or risk I did not want to take with a newborn.

When there was a questionable time in my treatment last week, my husband and I called a few medical friends to ask their opinions.  It only confirmed what we were already discussing with my doctor here.  I did not doubt her, and we have known her for a few years and trusted her already; but since we were all a bit baffled for a few hours by my case, we called on all resources.

If you are from the US, and you call on your doctor there to give you any advice, I think you may have a hard time.  I actually tried this once in the past.  An American doctor I saw here in Dubai for several years returned to the US in the middle of some tests I was having.  I happened to catch her on one of her last days in Dubai.  When I got my test results, I actually called her new US practice to see if I could speak to her about them.  I also followed up with an email that resulted in no response.  It is unfortunate, but due to the legal environment in the US, doctors are scared.  Even though I ensured her I am not a nut case or stalker, I don’t blame her.  I would recommend the same thing to any physician where frivolous lawsuits run ramped.

The nurses and staff where I stayed were some of the best I had ever observed, so that made it more pleasant.   Thankfully, my care and treatment was all very typical of what would have happened anywhere else.

Certainly if you have something rare, or critical, don’t mess around with it.  In any case, regardless of where you are, find the best care you can afford.  For the routine, or common ailment, you should hopefully be fine.   

Hopefully if you have a similar experience, the worst that will happen is that you once again confirm that television is a vast wasteland and even though they try very hard, hospital food is not that great.


Sew Pretty Dresses said...

So sorry you had such a rough time. I am glad you were able to get the care you needed. Drs. still call you back here in the US, it just depends on how large of a practice they have. It's getting harder and harder for them to make ends meet as far the cost of running their office so they have to take on more and more patients to make up for that cost. At least that's what my friends in the medical field are saying around here. It could be your Dr. had a very large practice and just didn't get back to you. Or they may have a poorly managed office and she never got the message. Who knows. That's still really stinky!

Pam said...

Thanks Jenny. In the end I had surgery, but all worked out. I think you are very right about practices in the US. In my particular case, the doctor has just moved so I'm not sure she was overly busy yet - although there is always a possibility b/c she is a great doctor!