Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hospital Efficiency.

I've been sick for the last week or so with a persistent case of sinusitis (I assume). I kept hoping it would clear up on its own as I've heard mixed reviews of the medical treatment in Korea. Well, after waking up pretty much unable to breathe I decided I should high tail it to the doc's office and get some freaking antibiotics already to clear this baby up.

In Korea, they don't have doctor's offices, exactly. They have hospitals. What we think of as a hospital (with a 24 hour emergency room) they call big hospitals, so I'm told. It sounds weird to me to go to a hospital for a routine doc's visit, but at lunch today that's where I went. I was shocked.

The experience was awesome. The hospital was super clean, the staff friendly and helpful despite my limited Korean, and the doctor actually listened to my symptoms. He didn't explain as much as an American doc would (like about what he was prescribing and such), but I kind of knew to expect that. He kept checking to make sure I understood him when he spoke in Korean.

They sent me on my way to the pharmacy up the street. The medicine and doc visit together cost less than $10.

The medicine is a little scary since it's all mixed together broken up by breakfast, lunch, and dinner packets, rather than by medicine type, but again the pharmacist kept checking that I understood what I was supposed to do and was exceptionally friendly and helpful.

The only part of the whole Korean hospital experience I lacked was the requisite steroids shot in the butt. I'm torn between wondering what part of my ass is so offensive as to not warrant a happy shot and relieved that I didn't have to refuse it.

Best of all? I was done with both the doc visit and had the meds from the pharmacy in about 30 minutes. With no appointment.

Hey America! Listen up! What the heck is wrong with you and your broken health care system? Now it's time for my dinner pill pack--yummy!


  1. Awwww! I hope you feel better soon! And I call the "hospitals" clinics and the big ones just hospitals :) Keeps things less confusing. Cheers!

  2. ...and let me know when and if those powder packets work, dear!


  3. did you go to the pharmacy next to the Banyawol Hospital? There's a totally hot pharmacist who works there.

  4. The priorities in the U.S. are rather screwy. Entertainment (movie, TV, singers, wrestlers, etc.) stars earn millions, sports stars can earn billions with added endorsements (Tiger Woods and A Rod), and CEOs earn millions yet we think people who actually save lives should not be paid accordingly. A lot of the blame can also be placed on doctors being forced to spend outragous sums just on insurance in our lawsuit-happy society.

    I really feel for the EMTs who are the first responders, yet are barely making a little over minimum wage. I know they don't need years and years of medical school to quickly stabilize a patient, but that pay is rather low for the job they do?

    As for the South Korean health care system, I nearly died here in Daejeon last year with a burst appendix. I ended up paying only about $1500 for the surgery and 4 day hospital stay in a mom and pop hospital. I remember that I would have paid anything if the doctor could save me though. I later found out that he had to call in a second surgeon to help do the surgery faster as I was really close to dying, but at the time he kept saying everything was fine and just to calm down. It seems he was quite worried about having a foreigner die in his hospital, so I ended up having excellent service.

  5. By the way, with the universities in the U.S. churning out so many lawyers who also need to file lawsuits (including many that are petty and time consuming) just to eat, the health care system makes an easy, and very lucrative, target.

    My father lost the family farm after one such petty lawsuit in which he was the victor, but the time and money it took to fight it eventually cost him the farm and led to his early death.

    So, do we really need more lawyers, than doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers, mechanics, and other productive members of society, and when will they run out of people to sue before the house of cards comes toppling down upon us all?



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