Kevin Blissett: Out of the Cave

Leadership, Classroom 2.0, Curriculum, China

The Sad State of Medical Care in China

The chances of getting top notch medical care throughout most of China are not high. I know this because I have lived in three different provinces with my family, and we have received one missed diagnosis or treatment after another, particularly here in Xi’an, a city of more than six million. I have had to become my own family doctor to a great degree; moreover, I consistently hear from other foreigners living here in China about similar experiences with shoddy healthcare.

To illustrate the point, a couple of years ago my son had walking pneumonia, which was properly diagnosed via a blood test. My three-year-old was prescribed a medication which is ineffective against this type of pneumonia. I got online and investigated many sources indicating that he should be on Azithromax. I went back the hospital and told them they had misprescribed the medication, and they consented to put my son on Azithromax; however, they insisted that he take the medication in three courses. ALL of the literature on Azithromax says it should be taken in one course over five days…period. I kept my son on one course of the medication, and he was fine by the end of the week. Scary! This type of treatment has been repeated on several occasions. (Doctors here could not even read an x-ray which clearly indicated that my wife’s foot was broken. We got confirmation in the Philippines, of all places.)

One of our teachers  recently had to have an emergency appendectomy, and the doctors almost killed him. He was evacuated to Australia and his doctors there were absolutely astonished at the incompetent care he had received.

As poor as the care is for patients not having life threatening illnesses, the chances of getting proper care if you have AIDS or hepatitis are close to nil, as is evident here.

Lingling had a long history of being ill. From infancy, she suffered colds and fevers, but when her mother took her to the county hospital, doctors would invariably prescribe some medicine and then shoo mother and daughter away, insisting there was nothing wrong with her.

But when Lingling contracted a fever two years ago, Wang Yuehong decided something had to be done and took her daughter to a larger hospital in Xi’an, in nearby Shaanxi province. Tests immediately confirmed the doctor’s suspicion: Lingling was HIV-positive. Ms Wang said she had never heard the word Aids before.

Doctors determined that Lingling had been infected from a contaminated blood transfusion given to her at her county hospital when she was 18 months old, the same hospital that insisted there was nothing seriously wrong with her. 

My family has decided that any serious illness will not be treated here in China, unless stabilization is needed before being evacuated to Hong Kong. In the meantime the government has vowed to make healthcare a priority, though I’m not holding my breath.

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April 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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