Sunday, December 7, 2008

When you are rich, you can afford to be sick.

My recent trip to the Pantai Hospital in Kuala Lumpur provided me with a reality check on how disgustingly commercialised private hospitals have become. I was there with my husband who has to undergo a temporary treatment.

When the doctor told us that he had to be admitted for one night, my husband was not pleased. I must confess that I was sceptical as to whether the admission was necessary or just another money-making scheme. I’ve heard one too many horror stories of how private hospitals make you take unnecessary medication, treatment, hospitalization and Caesarean in order to earn profit. However, since it was my husband’s health in question, I did not want to take any risk although my husband was not convinced at all with all the hospitalization bullshit for a minor treatment.

Anyway, the doctor and nurses insisted on the hospitalization even if it was just half a day. We were ushered into the International Lounge…oh yeah…it’s all done up like a first class airline lounge; carpeted, nice and comfortable leather armchairs, friendly and professional staffs and complimentary hot drinks.

We were attended to by a really nice and helpful receptionist. When she showed us a list of available rooms, our jaws nearly dropped. Among the category of rooms, listed were Sapphire (single bed), Luxury (probably comes with a complimentary mini-bar) and Luxury Suite (it probably means the hospital can earn the same amount of money from one patient instead of 10) and of course the prices climb from RM299 to +RM500. When we told the receptionist that we would not be staying for the night and just needed the room for a couple of hours, she told us that even if it was one hour, we would be charged full day. Well, when it is hospital policy, how can you argue with that?

What annoyed us most was when we finally made the RM2,000 deposit, they were not as insisting as before about the whole hospitalization bullshit! Apparently, the whole wham bang, goodbye mam doesn’t just apply to a one-night-stand.

The whole experience was made worse when we had to wait for nearly 3 hours for the nurse who was late to look into the treatment. By then, my husband was going on a rampage on how unacceptable our health system is as oppose to his socialist country where the government takes care of medical expenses regardless of your economic status. While trying to console and reason with him that Malaysia cannot be compared to developed countries like France, I can’t agree more that this is disgusting.

The application of a different standard of health care quality and service to different groups of people should not happen, especially when you think about the logic of it. Shouldn’t disadvantaged people receive better treatment since they usually need it more than anybody else? Even if we put this aside, isn’t it unethical for hospitals to put profits before  the interest of its patients? What does the Hippocrates Oath say about this?

As I looked at the parking lot reserved for the in-house doctors, I wonder how many patients who were tricked into bogus treatments and hospitalizations, have contributed to the BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

When we checked out from the hospital exactly 4 hours later, make no mistake that I had taken everything complimentary from the room including two toilet rolls,  much to my husband’s embarrassment. He was almost convinced that I was going to find a way to take the television as well.

Well, let’s face it, this is not France and when in Malaysia, do what the Malaysians do.


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