Philippine Project Notes:
Hospital
By Tim Roach
Copyright 2007


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There is an old saying, “In the jungle it is not the lion that gets you it is the mosquitoes”.

Well it wasn’t a mosquito, one of the local cobras, a bad accident or any thing major that put me in the hospital. Of all things it was a little microorganism.

I got caught by a piece of metal rather hard in the back of my leg. However since it didn’t break the skin and obviously nothing broken I figured it was just bruised very bad and nothing major to worry about. Just do normal treatment for a severe bruise and I would be back to normal in a day or two.

Unfortunately the hit was hard enough to cause a hematoma to form in the muscle near / between the bones of the lower leg which unfortunately got infected. (For those that do not know, a hematoma is an abnormal localized collection of blood in which the blood is usually clotted or partially clotted and is usually situated within an organ or a soft tissue space, such as within a muscle.)

Skipping all the gory details I ended up in the hospital from July 2 – July 6 with a 40c (104f) fever and a very swollen leg. Then had to have a rather deep hole cut in the leg to remove dead tissue and drain the puss. It was disgusting and fascinating at the same time just how much stuff came out of the leg.

While I am not overly thrilled with how I got the experience, I did get a bit of insight as to how the medical system works here in the Philippines.

Hospitals here in the Philippines (at least this area) work much differently than they do in the states. While I hope you never need to go to any hospital, if you get in a situation where you need to go to one here be sure to take someone with you that can do a lot of running around leg work for you. (I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Basically there is no delayed billing of medications, supplies, etc., it is a pay as you go system. (C.O.B. - Cash On the Barrelhead, as a friend of mine would call it.) For the area, while cold, the policy makes since, as the hospital simply would not get paid for supplies otherwise. Since there is not the same level of identification or tracking as in other countries many/most people after services are rendered would just disappear and never even attempt to pay their bill. So while I find the system rather heartless especially if a person is in very serious condition, I can understand the economics behind the policy.

However, there is one area that makes no sense to me. If a person is having trouble paying or coming up with the required cash the hospital will refuse to release the patient until all bills are paid and continue to charge for the room, etc. While I can understand the hospital’s concern that the patient would simply disappear it boggles my mind how they think that if a patient is having trouble paying a lower bill how it is going to be any easier getting money from them after an extra few days of useless hospital stay and additional charges.

However before I ramble on to much about that, back to the way the system works. The doctor tells you what he/she needs/wants and it is up to you to have someone go get it and pay for the items either at the hospital pharmacy or if not available there at one of the other drug stores in the area. This can become almost like a scavenger hunt especially if one needs something outside the norm for the area. However on the bright side of things one can get lower prices if you know which pharmacy/drug store to go to. And of course as in the states if at all possible try to get a generic or less expensive brands to save some money.

Another “fun area” is with lab work while a hospital may be able to do some of the work they may have to send something to another hospital’s lab to get results at which point they will hand you the bottle, or whatever, and say take this to the lab they want the test run at. (of course you have to pay that lab before they do the work)

As far as medical equipment the hospitals use. In some areas it is very modern and up to date. In other areas it really feels like one has stepped back in time to the 1950’s or 1960’s but in all fairness the area I am in is poor and they do what they can with what they can afford.

Much like in the states, or other areas, it is important to know what type of treatment each hospital primarily deals with. For some locations are better with handling infection type ailments others with wound or injuries. Of course if you are in one of the larger cities the better hospitals are usually equipped to handle most any situation. A few hospitals, in some specialties, can give treatments as good as that available in the states or other countries where medical treatment is considered highly advanced.

But regardless, unlike the states and other countries it is a pay as you go system and they will not release the person or in some cases will not perform treatment until they are sure the bill can be / is paid.

Thus my advice to anyone traveling in the Philippines is, be sure to have a little extra cash, because not all medical insurance is accepted in the hospitals. And while I hope you never need to go to any hospital anywhere if you do end up in one here in the Philippines be sure to take someone with you that you can truly trust not to take your money and run.



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Page Last Updated: 8/9/2007 8:08:05 PM