When Indian hospital managements get creative, they can be an amazing source of enjoyment and pleasure for patients and their visitors.
In October 2015, in the ICU of Sola Civil hospital in Ahmedabad, doctors and nurses broke into a joyous and noisy garba dance to entertain patients who enrolled in the ICU to fight disease and death in peace and solitude.
A mental hospital in Thane, Mumbai, celebrated Valentine’s Day by handing each inmate a rose and by making him say good things about the institution. Of course, they called the TV guys.
Of course, these are rare occurrences and it is heartening to see that Indian hospital managements get creative flashes very rarely.
This was the good news. The bad news is that there are things that could shake your very core. Here’re facts and tidbits about hospitals that you should be aware of:
- Steel Yourself For The Metal Detector Test
I recommend that after a long surgery you undergo a metal detector test. Walk inside an airport or a curfew-hit area to get a metal detector test done for free.
You know why?
Because doctors use heck of a lot of crazy tools during a long surgery:
“Nurse, pass me the forceps, pinzette, panzer, intestinal clamp, trocar, nerve hook, scalpel, luxator, and 32 sponge balls. After that you may take a selfie.”
The nurse obediently passes on the tools. But there’s no computerized inventory management inside the operation theater. Nurses count manually, doctors count manually, as the assistants fool around. When the doctor is through with the surgery, he will likely be tired and depressed because the patient’s insides were so unpleasant to look at.
He may not hand over all the items back to the nurse, who may be performing a ballet by now. She too won’t count — it’s been a long surgery and she needs tea badly.
It’s safe to say that there are chances of an instrument staying inside you post surgery.
Therefore, take the metal detector test and if that doesn’t beep, you can smile. It probably means that the good doctor left a sponge ball inside you. Harmless stuff, these sponge balls.
Also, remember that after every surgery you are prone to falls, lung collapse, blood clots, breathing failure, accidental cuts and wounds that unstitch suddenly. It all depends on how experienced your doctor is — therefore, choose an experienced surgeon.
- Deadly Gas Bubbles
Heard of air embolism or gas embolism? It means that air has entered your vein or artery and blocked it. These air bubbles can travel to the heart or brain and and cause strokes and respiratory failure.
Air bubbles can get injected from a variety of sources such as catheter, IV, syringe, and during surgery. God be with you if you’re being handled by an inattentive nurse during surgery. Therefore, insist that an experienced nurse takes care of you during the surgery and after. You’re paying through your nose, why end up buying deadly air bubbles?
- Gifted Doctors
It’s an open secret that big pharma manufacturers incentivize doctors into recommending their medicines. The incentives can take the form of gifts, money or holidays/cruises — whatever the doctor orders.
That’s how gifted our doctors are.
The same can hold true for hospital managements.
So, there’s a lot of motivation going behind the the medicines that your doctor writes on your prescription sheet.
Think about it — has your doctor ever recommended a generic drug, which is as effective as its branded counterpart, but priced at about 30% of it?
The likely answer will be NO.
So, ask your doctor to recommend a generic or a cheaper medicine that contains the same ingredients as the one he’s written out for you.
- The Superbugs
Hidden deep inside the reassuring disinfectant smells of a hospital, lurk superbugs. These superbugs are even resistant to last-resort antibiotics. Once these bugs latch on to you, they will likely cause pneumonia, respiratory problems, and other evil problems. If the superbug penetrates the patient, there can be hell to pay.
To avoid superbugs, here’s some advice for patients (and visitors):
- Insist your doctor and nurse clean their hands with an alcohol-based disinfectant before examining you.
- Don’t shave your beard or scalp hair before a surgery. You may get a non-bleeding cut and such wounds can serve as a gate for the superbug.
- Ensure that you are kept warm after a surgery. That’s because your blood vessels constrict when you feel cold. So a lesser blood supply to the incision area makes it vulnerable to bacteria.
- Every needle that gets pricked into you connects to a fluid, which serves as an excellent entry point for the bacteria. Ask your nurse to extract unnecessary needles after the surgery.
- The faster you get out of hospital the better. You’ll save money and avoid superbug infection!
- The Unwanted Procedure
You may find this tough to believe but every doctor working in a hospital is given a revenue or performance target to achieve. Most doctors try to achieve these targets by recommending unnecessary tests and procedures.
The Times of India surveyed 12,500 patients and found that 44% were advised against the surgery after taking a second opinion.
Hysterectomies, caesarians, tonsil removal, stent insertion, gallbladder removal, cataract surgery, Prostate surgery (to reduce size), expensive tests, you name it and the good doctor recommends it.
Therefore, you must always seek a second opinion unless the doctor’s closely related to you, not as a brother-in-law though. If the second opinion says a surgery is not required, don’t go back to the first doctor.
- Insurance Whoopee Cushion
The hospital may take a sympathetic view of the uninsured, but if you’re insured, the folks at the hospital will try to make whoopee. It may treat you for an illness that does not affect you. Imagine walking into a hospital with stomach or abdominal cramps and being told that these are because of an appendix which you must remove immediately.
You’ll eagerly lie down on the operating table without even taking a second opinion! The hospital’s bill will be paid by the insurance company, your cramps which may have occurred because of something nasty that you ate, would be cured. Everybody would be happy except for the insurance company.
Many experts of the opinion that hospitals present heavy and uncalled for bills to the insured. This may drive up premiums, but it wrecks the patient’s bank account. Most patients do not read insurance policies and sign up on the dotted line. They do not understand what is covered and when it is covered. Many hospitals exploit this mess to their advantage.
- Opaque Billing
Sure enough your doctor has informed you how much the treatment would cost, and you know the room rates, the rates per test, and so on.
But, in the end, every patient is unpleasantly surprised when he gets the bill. You may be hit by services that were not performed, services that are upgraded in order to obtain more money from the insurance company, unnecessary tests, extra procedures that you didn’t know about earlier but were necessitated because of your condition, etc.
There’s absolutely no transparency and if you cannot pay the bill, the smile will be replaced by a frown. The hospital cannot detain you, but you cannot stop them from coming after you.
The unpaid bill will reflect in your CIBIL credit score, the hospital will sue you and even try to attach your salary. Worse, they’ll sell your bill to a collection agency which is likely run by a gang of bar bouncers.
Almost all hospitals require you to make a deposit and replenish it depending on the bills generated. If you run out of cash mid way, they may not complete the whole treatment and you can’t do a shit about it.
These are the seven deadly sins every hospital can likely commit.
This article is valid for private hospitals.
Before signing off, here’s a useful tip: Private hospitals negotiate on surgery costs. Do not hesitate to drive them down on price.
Before saying goodbye, I must quote Voltaire here, “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
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