This is China … Village Idiot Series

Before you read the post, test your knowledge on Chinese Hospitals

Chinese Hospitals – A T/F Quiz

Due to my village idiot moment (aka broken shoulder/arm) I had to have surgery. Prior to this, the only bone I had ever broken was a toe, at my personal Yoda’s house. So surgery from a broken bone frightened and overwhelmed me. I was mainly overwhelmed by how different the Chinese hospital is from American hospitals.

In American hospitals, nurses not only do your IV but they take care of you. Family and friends may not be with you around the clock, so RNs, LPNs, CNAs etc. help you in and out of bed, take you to/from the bathroom, administer you medicine, etc. In American hospitals, food can be sent up to your room from the cafeteria for each meal. Many times, in American hospitals, you have your own room.

Wake up call. This is not America.

This is China.

When my doctor said I’d have surgery, he began explaining the cultural differences of a western hospital and a Chinese hospital. Here is your world wide hospital education.

Let’s begin with walking into the hospital.

Think about every WWII hospital scene in movies that you have seen. That is what the hospitals look like. It looks like they stopped renovating around 1927. Including how the nurses dress. Hats to shoes. I feel as though I have stepped back in time.

The nurses draw blood, start an IV, and take your temperature. They do not administer medication. If they do, in the case of narcotics or high powered medications, they must go down to the dispensary for each dose. It is not prescribed and given to the patient directly. Nope. It is regulated. This method takes anywhere from 1-2 hours before pain medicine is given to the patient requesting said medicine. We all know nurses are busy, but when a person is beginning to be in pain, hospitals in American would make sure patients receive medication before pain gets too much worse. Not in China. Not the norm.

Hospital rooms aren’t private rooms. There are about 3-5 beds per hospital room. My room had 3 beds. For part of day one there was a little boy in the bed next to mine. He had appendicitis. He was so precious and I felt so bad for him. He was prepped and taken to surgery within a couple of hours of being at the hospital.

In Chinese hospitals it is expected that your family or friends stay with you and care for you. They are the ones expected to help you in/out of bed, if needed, to/from the bathroom, up/down the hall or through the building… There is no cafeteria in the hospital. Family and friends are expected to feed you and to stay informed of when you are allowed or are not allowed to have food (like before surgery).

Another major difference is hospital record keeping. In western hospitals x-rays and CT scans are not given to patients, it is passed through the hospital to the appropriate doctors. In China, these are given to the patient to take to the doctor. Patients are expected to keep up with many of their own records. Some things, like blood work and a few other tests, are passed on to the doctors directly. Each person that checks into the hospital for any reason is given a booklet and a card. The booklet is the doctor’s notes for you, but you keep up with it. The card is registered to a number in the hospital computers under each person’s name and date of birth. This card tracks the tests and scans and x-rays. All tests must be paid for prior to having said test run. So if I need an x-ray, I pay for the x-ray then take the receipt and the x-ray form to the x-ray department.

Payments are made in the main building, with the ER and patient rooms. X-rays and CT scans are in a different building. It isn’t localized here as it would be in a western hospital. Things are a little more spread out and the patient has to walk from one place to the other to get each thing done. Then back to the main building to give things to the doctor.

One “fun” thing about Chinese hospitals is that anyone can walk into your room. For example, two friends were visiting me the day before my surgery. A man walked into my room with what appeared to be a medical chart and a bag. My surgeon and another foreign doctor had come to visit me earlier and had a similar looking bag. Naturally I assumed he was one of the local doctors coming by to check on me or visit me.

No. False. Wrong.

He was a salesman. He wanted to sell my friends or me a hand held back massager. No thanks, dude. No thanks. It took some convincing before he finally left, but he did eventually leave. This is super normal in China. On trains. On planes. In hospitals.

I had another rude awaking, outside of the above mentioned ones… The hospital did not have bed pans or bed pads (used under a bed pan in case of a spill or something) on hand. Patients, or a family member of the patient, need to provide their own. So when my friend asked for one for me, she was told to go buy one. That was fun. I also had to have my own toilet paper for my room.

This is the true Chinese hospital experience.

Oh, I forgot to mention… there are no showers in the rooms. Toilets are squatty pottys, because this is China.

It wasn’t a terrible experience, just a very VERY different one.

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One thought on “This is China … Village Idiot Series

  1. Sorry all, there seems to be something wrong with the quiz. Here are the answers

    1. False, there is no hospital food.
    2. True, Ibuprofen, Advil,NAND Alieve are common “pain” medicines…
    3. False, nurses do none of these.
    4. False, the asked me the whereabouts of the other patient checked into my room.
    5. True, I was especially sad about this one.
    6. False. Oh so sadly false.
    7. False, refer to question 3
    8. True, I did this right before surgery
    9. True, but stained pajamas are…
    10. True, *shudder* true

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