Patient Shares Horrific Hospital Experience to Help Expats
The following article was written and shared by a ShekouDaily reader who was suffering from stomach pains after a visit to Thailand. He decided to visit three popular hospitals in Shenzhen and now wants to share his experience with these three hospitals so other Expats can avoid some of the troubles he faced and ultimately find the best option for their medical needs. These are true accounts written by the patient. His name has been changed to help him avoid any repercussions for sharing his stories.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are soley those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of ShekouDaily, its staff, and/or any/all other contributors.
My problems started during National holiday whilst visiting Thailand, a small pain in my abdomen. Over two weeks it started to get worse so I visited Shekou peoples with a colleague to help translate. My first visit they asked me a few questions & gave me medicine for gas, which of course didn’t help.
As I have insurance I decided to visit Vista Medical next as they speak English. I had the consultation and they recommended the Ultrasound to check for appendicitis, and if that was ruled out after the Ultrasound (please note AFTER the Ultrasound) then they recommended a colonoscopy. I said OK and needed a couple of days to prepare for the Ultrasound on my abdomen.
The Ultrasound cost about 2.3K RMB and I arrived early morning, what annoyed me was, as I arrived the doctor seemed to already be forcing the colonoscopy on me, even before the Ultrasound, he was giving me the medicine and asking me to sign waivers for the procedure, I hadn’t even had the ultrasound yet? I started to feel like a walking ATM. Also, when you ask them the price for anything they never want to seem to answer you properly, it is always a “rough idea” of the price. Every time you meet the doctor, its 480 RMB and ‘after consultation’ is 200 RMB.
I had the ultrasound and appendicitis was ruled out, now comes the hard push for the colonoscopy, which I refused. I was told it could be flu or acute food poisoning.
I decided to take my scan to HKU. Here I spoke with a specialist who spoke English, he recommended a CT scan as if it was mild appendicitis an ultrasound could actually miss it. So I paid 2K and made an appointment for 5 days’ time (they wouldn’t give me it any sooner) to have the next scan. The information they give you for this scan (when it is the abdomen) seems to contradict itself. One paper told me don’t eat after 10pm if it is a morning scan and if it is afternoon don’t eat for 6 hours before. Also don’t drink anything for 12 hours before the scan. Actually you have to drink 1 litre of water and be dying for the bathroom before the scan, or they won’t even scan you! My scan was delayed for an hour whilst I drank 4/5 cups of water.
After the CT scan you have to wait 2 working days to meet the specialist and discuss the findings. As my scan was a Wednesday they told me to come back Monday afternoon.
All of this time I continued to work as the pain was more annoying than serious. I was in HK Monday & Tuesday to work so I went to HKU Monday morning, I printed out my findings and decided to take them to HK hospital ST Teresas and try to get an idea of what was wrong.
It is safe to say that HK hospitals have no respect for any tests or scans from the Mainland. They barely looked at my scans and said I should have all the tests again in their hospitals, even though I was insured I would have to pay for these again and take more time off work to travel..which I could not do. The doctor checked my CT and said it could be “Swollen lymph nodes in my abdomen”.
Finally, the day of my specialist meeting arrived at HKU. As I had no one with me, the receptionist in this department specifically booked me a doctor that could speak English, which was nice of her. It has now been about 4 weeks of constant annoying and sometimes serious pain. I barely even sat down before he simply said “You have mild appendicitis, do you want surgery?”
I was relieved to have a diagnosis but also worried how much would this cost me. He offered me antibiotics for 1 week to try and relieve it, as it was mild appendicitis. So I opted for this first.
After a few days I realised that the medicine wasn’t working and I tried calling HKU to ask about the surgery, it took about 10-15 phone calls to get through. I gave them all of the information and they said they would call me back. I also had our HR calling Shekou peoples to ask about the surgery, price and how long I would have to stay in hospital.
Shekou peoples quoted me 10-15K and 1 week. They also told me they could book me in in 1 to 2 days’ time. By this point the pain was getting worse. The next day I went to Shekou peoples with my Chinese girlfriend and met the specialist. This was Tuesday November 13th. He checked all of my scans & asked questions and said I could have the surgery the next morning and have to stay that day for tests. At this point I was just fed up and wanted to get this taken care of, so I confirmed it was OK with my boss and booked in.
Before they check you in, you have to pay 10,000 RMB deposit, this is if you don’t have social insurance, if you have the insurance its 2K. You then get given all of the necessary documents which you have to take to the ward they specify for you. Once I arrived at the ward I met the on duty doctor and they show you to your bed. I have to say the bed was disgusting! Very dirty! Half of the pillow case was black with dirt. My girlfriend brought me some bed sheets, I was also sharing my room with two women, and there are three to five beds to a room. Every room has its own bathroom with a sink and shower, which is also quite disgusting and they don’t seem to clean it as much as they should, I found out later that a women in my room actually caught an infection after surgery and she had to stay for 2 weeks.
I had already checked into the hospital, so I was not allowed to leave. I only found out later that you have to provide your own toilet roll, everything for shower & getting washed and also your own food. At no point did anyone tell me or my girlfriend this, so my gf had to rush & bring everything from home. I had to add some of the nurses’ WeChat & have them help me order food when I was allowed to eat again.
The surgery went fine, I woke up in the recovery room with the nurse asking me questions to make sure I was OK. I was then taken back to the ward. One thing I found very strange & annoying, families just seem to live in the hospital and sleep on beds on the floor around the patient’s bed. One woman in my room had her mother sleep every night on a bed on the floor. The other woman’s husband would do the same, how is this hygienic? Delivery guys bringing in food from outside at all hours of the day and families talking all night.
I was given 6/7 IVs every day for 4/5 days, I had to ask them what it was for as they kept hooking me up to these IVs and not even trying to tell me what it was for. Once I asked, some nurses would translate for me. There is no bedside manner, if they change the IV in the middle of the night, they just put lights on full& wake everyone up, they don’t use the lamps by your bed.
Every night they put an invoice on the bottom of your bed, listing costs of that day. I didn’t eat for the first 3 days, as I got quite sick on the Friday & Saturday. Sunday (5th day) I started to eat, I was only allowed plain congee or simple soup. By this day I felt like death warmed up. As well as being sick I could not sleep due to the talking all night and nurses coming in and out. The doctor told me I might be able to leave Monday.
Then on Monday morning they told me Wednesday, I refused. I had my gf explain to them I couldn’t sleep and I wasn’t sick anymore, I really needed to just sleep and I lived very close, they agreed and I was let out on Monday morning. My total bill was 15.5K.
After I was allowed out I developed a blood clot in my leg. I had it diagnosed at Vista medical, I did go back to Shekou peoples to speak to the doctor there who simply laughed when telling me “These things happen”. I paid 2K at Vista medical who wanted to start treatment right away. Again they wouldn’t give me a price, only explained the treatment. It literally took me about ¾ days to have them give me a price of 35K for the first month. They insisted I could get back 100% from my insurance.
The reason I wanted to use Vista was they told me I wouldn’t have to stay there for 1 week (which is what HKU and Shekou peoples told me), I could go each day and have the treatment then leave. I had already missed a lot of work and didn’t want to jeopardise my job by taking another week off.
I arranged a meeting with their finance to discuss a payment plan that they insisted would be flexible. I had previously met with their sales guy and a HK doctor. This time I met direct with their cashier, who then told me the FIRST of 3 months treatment would be 50K and my insurance would only cover 20%! I got up and walked out, infuriated at their lies and hard selling tactics.
I took a taxi to HKU and booked in that night.
As you’re shown to your bed they give you a questionnaire to check you for depression. Two nurses on my ward spoke very good English and my doctor who visited me twice a day spoke fluent English. They came each morning to help me order breakfast and later lunch & dinner. Again, family are allowed to sleep next to the bed & I had a argument with an old patients 2 sons who just talked all night.
After some tests & many questions, my doctor informed me he was 98% sure that my blood clot was due to the surgery. As I was sick & couldn’t get out of bed for 3 to 4 days, they should have gave me medicine or treatment to prevent blood clots. After three days of tests & treatment, I was allowed to leave.
After a difficult two months and 9 days in two different hospitals I have to say of course I prefer HKU. I understand hospitals in foreign countries will be different. But to have random people coming & going as well as families living in the wards does not seem hygienic.
About the Author: Patient Xpat
Patient Xpat was suffering from stomach pains after a visit to Thailand and decided to visit three popular hospitals in Shenzhen. He documented his experience with these three hospitals over two months and nine days to share with other Expats so they can avoid some of the troubles he faced and ultimately find the best option for their medical needs. These are true accounts written by the patient. His name has been changed to help him avoid any repercussions for sharing his stories.