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Personal experience: general impressions of Medical Care in Samui


Personal experience: general impressions of Medical Care in Samui

During our five years of living on Ko Samui we have accumulated a considerable experience regarding medical institutions on the island. Below I have given a general personal opinion on medical services on Samui and have listed a few distinctive features which you probably should be prepared for.

1. In the medical business on Ko Samui there are two almost nonintersecting worlds:

- Pharmacies and pharmacists who are willing to listen to the client's symptoms, diagnose and sell medicines, yet there is no guarantee that it would help.

- Hospitals and doctors' offices, which would diagnose not only on the basis of customer’s complaints but also based on the results of the examination. Here as well as in the pharmacies they are selling medicines. Moreover, in this case the medication will be included in the price of admission. Often the price of drugs is overstated ( sometimes the prices will be two to three times higher than those in the network pharmacies) and often the cost of drugs will be difficult to separate from the general bill. Doctors almost never give a prescription which you can use to buy drugs outside the clinic but I would recommend asking for it nevertheless in case if the doctor's appointment is not fully covered by your insurance.

2. The use of antibiotics in the treatment of the majority of diseases.

Any dentist surgery treatment such as inflamed gums and root canal treatment; treatment of the skin injuries, problems with digestion, treatment of lung infections and sinusitis, as well as any other inflammation – everything includes antibiotic. In tablets, ointments, creams or injections. Protesting against such treatment is pointless and sometimes is unnecessary - the local climate is treacherous and often a complete cure might take too much time, or even be impossible without antibiotic.

3. Doctors are not to be argued with.

Thai mentality has it mortgaged that teachers, monks, parents, doctors and military are the people not to be argued with at all, and whose opinion is an unquestioned authority.

Of course, local doctors are gradually getting used to the fact that many foreign patients are more accustomed to trust Google and engage in self-medication, so they don’t get much surprised and offended when their words are being questioned and the prescriptions are not met. However, keep in mind that in the presence of outsiders, especially when surrounded by the subordinates, the doctor’s authority should not be belittled.

Also keep in mind that local physicians can make mistakes just like their foreign counterparts, so a healthy skepticism will not hurt. Although the overall level of medicine (clinics equipment, qualification of doctors, etc.) in Thailand is rather high.

4. Body temperature.

We had to deal with the fact that by local standards the body temperature of +37,5 C is not a cause for concern. Even if such a temperature stays for several months. It is believed that due to the hot climate, the unprepared foreigners overheat all without exception and therefore the temperature increases. When it rises to +37,7 C, the nurses begin showing a little interest to your person, and at +38,0 C they would run to you with two paracetamol tablets.
And yes, a high temperature is lowered here exclusively with paracetamol. Since it may be caused by dengue fever (this is rare, but if the probability exists, it is better to be on the safe side), since only paracetamol is allowed in case of dengue.

5. The attitude to cleanliness and hygiene in hospitals and doctors' offices (including dentists) is not so quivering. For example, in the hospitals wards with private bathrooms and even in the most expensive ones you can see traces of mold and insects. Air conditioners are not cleaned regularly, some of them are with dust and unpleasant odors. Wet cleaning of the wards of hospitals is often carried out without using of special disinfectants. Also it is allowed for the relatives to stay with the patient in the wards of all hospitals around the clock without exception. Wearing the street or home clothes and shoes - no one cares.

6. The diet.

Even while being in the hospital with a digestive organs disorder, patients are not restricted in their diet. Often one will need a special and repeated request to be given dietary food. Here, the "diet" only comes in two kinds - liquid rice porridge with the addition of lumps of minced chicken or pork.

7. Before visiting any doctor at the registry, as well as before hospitalization, a patient always gets his temperature, pressure (indicators of blood oxygen saturation), weight and height measured.

8. Chest X-ray.

They just love doing it here. When it is necessary, and when its not. I do not know why. Perhaps too often disease affects lungs, and the doctors are just being cautious.

It so happened that in five years we have been to all Koh Samui hospitals, except for Thai International Hospital, which we decided not to include in our medical "experiments" by moving right to the upper price category - to Bangkok Samui Hospital.
However based on the statements of our Thai and foreign friends living on Koh Samui, we have come to some conclusions about the hospital, and they are as follows:

- Overall level of Thai International Hospital is comparable to Bandon, but the hospital is a little newer than Bandon;

- Foreign insurance companies, such as BUPA, prefer sending their "economy" customers (whose insurance plans are lower than the "Platinum" which covers 1 million baht per one insured event) here and not in Bandon or Koh Samui International hospitals;

- Pricing policy of the hospital is very "flexible" - for the same manipulation different people can be billed differently. So it is better to check all the bills very carefully.

My personal experiences related to each of the hospitals on Samui will be shared in the relevant articles so that you can make your own choice of where to apply for medical help.

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