The Hospitals Are Great
I find it quite amusing and the Thais find it offensive that Thailand is still categorized as a third world country (economically at least).
I come from a city of 25,000 people in a “first world country” where there is free medical and hospital although we are encouraged to take out private health insurance with the promise of better service etc. First I needed to see my doctor, 4 weeks wait, then she referred me to a surgeon, 5 weeks wait and to have a minor operation I get a letter from my local hospital saying that my surgery is scheduled for approximately 5 months time, bearing in mind that the surgeon had scolded me for not acting sooner!
I then started having a lot of nausea and stomach pain. A few weeks to the doctor and I told her don’t worry about a referral, I’ll get it looked at in Bangkok, the hospitals are better. My uncle had just waited 3 months to have a camera down his stomach.
Also, the private option is useless as we don’t have a private hospital in our city!
When we arrived in Thailand we rang a good hospital my wife had used here before and they said come in any time! Just don’t eat or drink 6 to 8 hours before you come in.
Ok, I finally summoned up the courage and we wandered into the hospital at 2:45 in the afternoon, wandered up to the registration desk and within 45 minutes I was in front of a gastroenterologist. When I mentioned I hadn’t eaten for 8 hours he said he could do me the same evening. We sat in the waiting room for around half an hour and then the nurse advised he could do my procedure at 4:30. After a few minutes they bought me a gown. I was given an injection, wheeled downstairs and given an electrocardiogram, a chest X-ray and then wheeled into the theatre. The anesthetist asked me a few of the required questions and next I knew I was in recovery. After the required hour in there I was wheeled upstairs and within 20 minutes was back in front of the specialist. He gave me a rundown, and made an appointment for 10 days time to review the pathology results. We went downstairs, paid the bill, picked up my medication, hopped in the car and drove home.
The other night here in Bangkok I was preparing spaghetti with a chicken and pesto sauce (my Thai family love it) and I was proudly showing off how I could chop up the meat (instead of mangling it in a food processor) when I relieved myself of 2/3 of the tip of one of my fingers ( I had done a similar thing with a Stanley knife a few years earlier so I knew the drill!)
While they were all panicking, I rinsed the wound, put a wad of tissues on my finger and asked the wife’s nephew if he would run me to the hospital. While he organized the car, I instructed the brother in law how to finish the cooking and said I’d be back in time for dinner (after all we were in Bangkok). We drove to another good hospital nearby and they raced me straight into emergency. A few injections to kill the pain, a beautiful stitching job by the doctor and we were out of there in 30 minutes and it cost 2060 baht! Back in Farangland it would have been most likely 3 hours plus! Dinner was on the table 10 minutes after we got back.
I am still disgusted how in my Farangland we have to travel all over the place, sometimes long distances, to complete the above simple procedure and make multiple appointments to get anything done. Particularly the toll it takes on older, often fragile people. My specialist here was just shaking his head in disbelief when I told him of the delays in my country. My wife and family often look up to western countries and often use the term “civilized” to describe the west. Due to family commitments back home I’m enjoying my last few cheap lovely Thai beers with a heavy heart before we fly back to my country tomorrow. How “civilized” are we really without good prompt healthcare
The dentists here are amazing also, but that’s another story.
In summary, if any reader is having to wait a long time for dental or medical or the price is too high, jump on a plane to Bangkok. The service and skills here are second to none!
6 months ago I would have agreed with your summary of the local medical care, but now I am a little unsure of things. Getting seen to promptly I agree with, sure, Thailand beats the West hands down in this respect. But when it comes to quality care I am not entirely sure if Thailand does compete with the West. I keep hearing more and more horror stories from the very best hospitals that I now have a few doubts. OK, people do tend to complain rather than praise, it’s human nature, but as I say, I have some doubts.