What To Expect Visiting A Doctor In Punjab
Today I went to a private hospital for the very first time in India. I have been to doctors clinics previously which turn out, are not dissimilar. The state of private clinics are not the best, especially in comparison to the western world. So I could only imagine what it is like at a public hospital. I am lucky that I didn't have a medical emergency and only went for a general check up.
When my brother in law had a severe motor bike accident he was unconscious and bleeding profusely and was not seen to immediately at the public hospital. It is first in best dressed when it comes to public health and the doctors did not see him as an emergency. Despite the fact he had a major gash on his head, face and knees and was still bleeding. The halls are usually full of patients wailing and moaning in pain waiting to be seen to like my brother in law. It is unfortunate that one's life just isn't a priority in India. There is no sense of urgency by the medical staff. We were fortunate enough that a family friend knew a doctor at this hospital and made some calls. He was then immediately seen to after that. The fact that you need to know someone to save your life is extremely unsettling when living abroad. He ended up needing several stitches on all three wounds.
I first attended a private doctor's practice when I was last living in India. The entryway was full to the brim with people standing and sitting almost on top of one another. The doctors examination room was no different. The door was wide open and there were patients being seen to sitting across the desk from the doctor. Then there were patients waiting to be seen to sitting in a row against the wall of the examination room. I couldn't believe that there was absolutely no privacy. Everyone in the hallway were also listening intently to what was being discussed in the examination rooms. When our turn arrived it was no different, other patients were piled into the examination room with us to wait. The doctor spoke Punjabi to my husband given she spoke broken English. Though she would not speak to him about certain female things as he is male. So she took me aside to discuss female issues. It astounds me that a professional will not say certain things to a male because they're female and it's deemed embarrassing.
Having experienced what a general practitioner's clinic is like I assumed a private hospital would perhaps offer a little more privacy. Though alas it was even more crowded than the doctors clinic. The waiting room was over crowded with patients waiting to be seen to by the doctors. The staff all walked around in normal bright colourful Punjabi attire rather than white lab coats. Everyone stared at me as I walked across the waiting room to sit around the corner in a private hallway. Again the doctor's examination room was full to the brim with other patients waiting against the wall whilst she was discussing results with another patient. We were taken into the room and sat across the doctor's desk to wait whilst she was still in the midst of seeing another patient. Given the close proximity I could see every file note and scan in the other patients file. It was rather uncomfortable being seen to by the doctor whilst having ten other women leering at me in the room whilst they intently listened to what we discussed. To one side of the room was a sheer curtain with an examination bed behind it. The doctor had four young women assistants who were also in the room standing over the doctor. I was made to get undressed behind the curtain for a general check up. Whilst the four young women all squeezed in with me behind the curtain watching me undress. It could not get any more awkward than this.
I then needed to do one more test in another examination room which had a curtain for a door. Inside was one small examination bed with a seat and computer for the doctor. To the corner was a small stool. The four young women were piled into the room whilst another patient was on the bed half naked being examined by a doctor. I was sat on the stool in the corner to wait. No one seemed phased by the fact I could see this other patient laying there half naked. As soon as the doctor finished she was immediately scooted out of the room and I was made to lay down. As I laid half naked on the cold examination bed, another patient was brought into the room to wait.
You wouldn't expect this service from a private clinic in the western world given you are paying for the service. However this is the norm here. There are just too many patients that it is all about getting them in and out as quickly as possible. Things like cleanliness and privacy just aren't priorities. Even the equipment and amenities are outdated and in dire need of replacing. Although with that said it could be much worse and at the very least they seem to have a process in place that works. You are also taken seriously unlike some doctors I have been to who just prescribe me rest and assume I am a hypochondriac.
Have you had a similar experience?