Monday, October 30, 2006

The Hospital

I thought that with my existing medical condition the first time I stepped into a Korean hospital it would be for me, but as fate would have it, we ended up there today with my girlfriend's brother who was feeling unwell.

The procedure back home under the UK National Health Service in these circumstances would have been to phone a local doctors' surgery for an appointment, which would then have been arranged sometime within the next seven days. If further tests were required from this point, a hospital outpatient visit would occur within a few weeks, possibly sooner if matters were deemed to be urgent and possibly much later if not.

Having decided medical consultation was required, we walked to one of the many specialist hospitals (pick one) about half-a-mile away. It was on the second floor of a typical small high-rise building on the main road, above a store. I was surprised by the small size and thought that they couldn't possibly have all the specialist equipment required here, but apparently they can - more or less. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes.

And that was it, within an hour of deciding he needed to see one, my girlfriend's brother had seen a specialist, got a preliminary diagnosis and advice on a course of drugs to take as an initial treatment. The cost? £1.50 for the appointment and 75p for the drugs from a next-door pharmacy. You do of course have to pay for annual medical insurance - but what price would you put on immediate treatment? Plus I pay over £6 every time I get any drugs through the NHS. The system here seems so vastly superior to what I'm used to I'm looking for a downside.

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