Why should you checkout your local hospital in the Philippines?–medical horror stories

medical nightmareIf your like myself your probably in fairly good health and the last thing on your mind is “how good is my nearby hospital?”. But its well worth checking out as it may save your life at some point or more importantly may actually kill you.

Over dramatization? you may think so initially until you’ve experienced a third world hospital in an emergency environment. The other day I was discussing with someone about locations to move to and it came up he had been a bit remote where he was living previously when he had a motorcycle accident. There was no ambulance and he had to be taken to the nearby hospital by police car. Upon arrival there was no medicines, no bandages pretty much a single roofed building with 4 rooms in it as well as very limited staff was pretty much it. His leg was fairly badly injured and they patched it up at the hospital where the doctor carried the work out in the ER corridor including stitching.

Shortly after he and his wife made the decision to try and get to a better facilitated hospital and it was a good decision to make. When arriving there the doctor at the new facility asked if they had done the repairs on his leg themselves since they were so bad. I believe a toe was also lost in the accident but now recovered a bit wiser to where they should be living in case of emergencies.

Even in the main towns and cities I have concern about abilities though another expat another problem, he had been ill for a few weeks and was losing considerable weight. He went to a doctor only advise was take tests and come back in 2 weeks. 6 doctors later and 2 months his body weight had halved but was lucky enough that the last doctor recognised the symptoms and immediately sorted out medication that healed him. Took several months to recover but the point is how much can you trust a doctors judgement if they’re only suggestion is take tests and see what happens?

But this is the other factor not yet mentioned and probably won’t get mentioned to you is that due to equipment failures your tests may not get done. In one woman’s case its likely have caused the death of her father as late diagnosis meant delayed treatment. The hospital didn’t tell her the machine was broke until after he had died yet they could have transferred to a better hospital if they had known.

Are the doctors not competent? My question would be are they all?? I remember a big stink being raised when a TV show had made a mockery of Philippines doctors certificates but why did they mock it in the first place? I don’t know enough about it but I will say this talking with Nimesh in India as he didn’t realise some doctors retrained here as nurses as it was easier to go abroad. Yet as I know from the UK and Nimesh as well there is always a shortage doctors. At Worcester hospital they actually fly them in from India due to being short of skilled medical surgeons and doctors so why would anyone retrain to a lower level unless its not recognised at the same standard? If its a case of the training is different wouldn’t it make sense to adopt a more international approach that would actually make it easy to transfer abroad as you would be recognised as a competent doctor?

Am I all doom and gloom on the medical front? I am biast on this generally because I don’t like hospitals and even in the UK I have had a few misdiagnosis by GPs a sprained ankle needing rest for example was two torn ligaments that needed regular exercise to stop the muscle tissue reforming around them. Resulted in having to have physio therapy to loosen the connections back up. I had also arrived back after a bad case of Dengue in the UK at which point my doctor (as I was still very ill and white as milk) started doing a medical Google on the internet as she didn’t know what Dengue was at the same time sent me off for tests for Malaria and several other things such as TB

At the same time though I would just say checkout the facilities in your nearby hospital and its capabilities. A recent scandal appeared in the news due to a government hospital having no doctors because they were all working in a private hospital nearby because they paid more (even though they were supposed to be at the government run hospital). Knowing your hospital and also those that people recommend may actually save your life as you will also know which ones to avoid.

0 comments for “Why should you checkout your local hospital in the Philippines?–medical horror stories

  1. Cemlyn
    July 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Those of us that have lived in the Philippines for a while know that one of the biggest problems here is maintenance and servicing. The attitude is ‘why spend money if it is still working?’ . This applies to everything you can possibly think of regardless of how important it is. Lets look at hospital equipment. Most equipment needs to be calibrated in order for them to continue to work accurately. Are the calibration registers filled in, of course they are. For 500 pesos the engineer will sign anything. Is the equipment calibrated, how can it be. Almost every engineer goes about his business with just normal DIY tools. Calibration is very exact and in the case of some very specialised equipment like X=Ray machines, the calibration is very technical and involves several stages which are both costly and time consuming. Very specialised and expensive monitoring equipment is used. Is this done in the Philippines? Not a chance. I am the man that Matt is referring to about the motorbike accident and I lost the top of one toe and my big toe doesn’t look like a toe anymore ?? My partner had a head injury and she was given a head X-Ray. At the hospital the surgeon refused to give her another X-Ray because he could see from the X-Ray already taken that she had already been given too high a dose. Fortunately she was ok. I have a friend who used to work for one of the big power stations in Manila. He tried and tried to instill a proper maintenance schedule and everyone went along with everything he said. All the Standard Operating Procedures were written, the training took place and then the first schedule came up. A pump would be removed, stripped down, seals replaced, everything greased up etc etc. He went along to supervise it. All the maintenance schedules were completed, signed off and supervisory signatures all collected correctly. One problem, the work would take approx 8 hours. This was all finished in 30 mins. Nothing had actually been done. “It’s working fine” was the answer. “Why take it off line?? We’ll fix it if it breaks”. He quit the job. This attitude prevails in every aspect of Philippine life. I think everyone reading this will be nodding their heads and saying yes but never stop to think that this applies to all the medical equipment as well including the dosing equipment supplying drugs in an IV. Progressive under/over dosing. The worse the medical problem and the longer your treatment the bigger the problem. Are there good doctors, of course there are, are their good nurses, X-Ray techs etc etc again the answer is of course there are but the problem is which ones are good and which are not. Don’t expect the good ones to be in the private big name hospitals. The story about my toe was in a private hospital. I can’t give good advice on how to check out a hospital, clinic or doctor because I am not expert enough. What I do know is that even the best people here are only the best sometimes. Highly paid, big name medical celebrities only carry out a small amount of the work. Their assistants do a lot of it. Private clinics all over the place with nothing regulated. People who want to complain are threatened with high costs or no treatment. The patient has no choice. Where do you go to complain? There is no Medical Council.

    The other problem is medicine. Don’t think automatically that the medicine you are given is the right one. For my toe I was given a routine antibiotic by the surgeon. I developed an infection. The 2nd doctor I went to was horrified to see what I had been given. It was meant to be used a a general antibiotic for simple ailments, totally unsuitable for a wound and completely useless for my toe. She prescribed the correct antibiotic and cleaned the wound every day for a few days and taught my partner how to do the job. It took nearly a month for that infection to go away. If I had not gone for a second opinion I would have lost the toe and maybe a part of my foot. Then there is the question of medicines being stored incorrectly (too high a temperature, too high humidity) and being out of date. How many times do you see medicine simply sold in the strips not in the box. If you ask to see the box they show you an empty one, the last one they have which is in date. Does this happen in the big pharmacies? probably not as it would take too much time but what do they do with all the old stuff? simple sell it to small private pharmacies in the provinces. The medicine is still ok it’s just not as good as it was so the patient will have to buy more. That’s even better !! more sales and they bought it cheap.

    If you go home to your own country every year always schedule a complete health check and discuss with your doctor the simple medicines you should keep and the problem you have. Get the doctor to write a simple script for the medicines you will take back with you in case customs claim you are importing drugs. A script allows you to prove ‘personal use’. If the customs official thinks he can get away with it he will still try to confiscate it all so he can sell it privately regardless of what paperwork you have. “This is no good here, it’s not a Philippine doctor” and you can see where that will end up.

    Medical care is my biggest fear. Everything else pales into insignificance.