A Tour Through The Thai Medical System
In a previous posting I mentioned an accident I had in 2002 which led to treatment in Thailand. I thought I might just enlarge on this experience.
I was playing golf at Century Chonburi Golf Club, which despite it’s name is pretty much in the middle of nowhere – in fact I’ve tried twice since to drive there to meet people to play there and failed to manage to find it. The nature of my accident there was quite simple – I hit my ball into a plantation of trees, went in to play it out and someone else in there unbeknownst to me played their ball which struck me full on the nose with the result being a broken nose and a hole down to the nose cartilage and quite a bit of blood. Somebody came out from the clubhouse in a pickup and off I went toward medical facilities, time now about 11.00.
My first port of call was what I took to be some sort of district nurse, who had a little office / surgery, maybe 10 minutes away. She inspected the damage, tut tutted and said to my driver we had to go to hospital. Fifteen minutes later we were at what I think was some type of local quite small hospital. I declined the wheelchair which was rushed out toward me, walked in and was about to sit down in the reception area when my driver said to me we were to go straight through one of those strange semi see through plasticky doors you only seem to get in hospitals, into what was a treatment area. I was motioned to lie down, more brief nasal inspection and tut tutting occurred, and I was then asked to sit up. A brief discussion ensued, my Thai being virtually non existent, the nursing staff’s English a little better, and it was agreed I would be given a tetanus shot and an injection of some coagulant to stop the bleeding. At this point the discussion stalled as language difficulties intruded, but eventually I agreed that I was happy for a trainee nurse to do the injections. She was then wheeled out so to speak, and the moment was a bit like in a Carry On film where Bernard Breslaw is in hospital and turns to face a nurse and is struck speechless as a result of how attractive she is; the trainee nurse was probably the most beautiful woman I have ever been in close physical proximity to. Anyway, after the pleasure of these injections I was then told I needed to go on to the hospital in Chonburi. Thirty minutes later I was at the hospital in Chonburi, Aikchol Hospital.
Again I declined the wheelchair , walked in and again was whisked straight through into a treatment area. This time though the first discussion was about how was I going to pay – visa card was fine, and I wasn’t going to argue as I was anticipating (correctly) that my travel insurance would pay this bill, and I plumped to splash out on a private single room. Within twenty minutes a consultant appeared, examined me, sent me off to x ray, then patiently showed me the break and what he was going to do to my nose in the operating theatre. I remember being left then for a little while, before being wheeled up to the operating theatre, waiting in there a few minutes before the anaesthetist introduced himself; it must be some strange trick of my memory but I have no idea how he knocked me out and can’t remember an injection at all. I came to in the recuperation area, bizarrely thinking I was in a supermarket queue.
I was wheeled up to my room – nice view over Chonburi, bed for me, seat and couch in the room, TV and fridge and bathroom. My girlfriend (wife now) was there to make sure I was OK. I was put into bed, hooked up to drips , and then nurses came to check on me every three hours or so, and to give me various pills. It was about 15.00 when I was put to bed. I stayed overnight and the following night and was discharged the next afternoon. Throughout my stay as I just said nurses checked me every three hours or so, a nice choice of food was available, and I was given one bed bath by a couple of giggling nurses who seemed fascinated by my hairy torso.
I had two appointments further with my consultant in the next fortnight to make sure everything was OK and to collect more medication. The first one was in a sense instructive – my appointment was for 4.30 so I arrived about 4.28 at reception, gave them my appointment card and turned to go and sit down and wait (in England at the doctors or dentist I can’t remember ever not waiting or my appointment time being met) but was called back by the receptionist to be admonished “ Where you go? The doctor is waiting for you though there”.
As far as I could see I was not charged for my visit to the district nurse or the treatment at the district hospital. My total bill at Aikchol for my consultant surgeon, the anaesthetist and his assistant, the surgery, the private room for two nights, nursing care, medication, food, and two further appointments with the consultant, came to just over B30,000. I’m not too sure in England you would get the anaesthetist out of bed for this sum, let alone it finance the rest of what I received. My treatment and care throughout I thought was wonderful (and I’m terrified of doctors and hospitals usually), and I’m still really impressed by the speed of it all, injured in the middle of nowhere at 11.00, in bed operated on by 15.00.
My nose isn’t perfectly straight, but then again I don’t think it was before – nobody in the UK knows I’ve had this treatment as I’m not interested in making a big fuss about it, and nobody has ever commented on any change in my appearance. I’ve had no adverse effects, and think back almost fondly of my trip through the Thai medical system.
Very good to hear such positive things about medical care in Thailand, once again reassuring.