Saturday, 15 December 2007

don't get sick on saturday

The hospitals here in Al Ain are plain weird. It is difficult to locate the appropriate outpatients desk and then once you get there, you don't know what to do. Should you queue up? Should you go straight to a desk where people seem intent on ignoring you? What are the procedures? Should you let your spouse keel over and die while staff happily ignore you both? I decided against the latter and insisted on getting some attention. My spouse was quickly seated while I was sent to the other end of the hospital to register. Once I'd registered, I had to make a point of asking what we had to do next, because I wasn't told. Armed with the appropriate information, K and I went to the nurses' desk and again I had to let it be known that we needed to see a doctor quickly.

Saturday, I have to tell you, is not a good day to get sick as the hospital has a lot in common with the Japanese subway where they have staff employed to stuff half a dozen more people into the already overcrowded carriages!

We soon jumped the queues and got to see a nurse who wired K up to a machine and then attempted to administer some oxygen. Unfortunately the oxygen cylinder was empty, so an orderly was quickly called to bring in a new one. The new one was wired up and the mask was put over K's face. With his entire body pinioned under a series of leads going off in all directions, he started trying to get to his hand to his face and was told to leave the mask alone as he needed oxygen for his heart muscles. He kept struggling. The nurse took the mask off his face and K informed him with his last gasp that he couldn't breathe. It turned out that the replacement gas cylinder was empty too! A third one was soon delivered. After the ECG K was given some meds and choofed off to another room for blood tests. Two and a half hours later some of the results came back! I was despatched to an office in Area B. I wasn't told what for, but I dutifully went. It turned out that I had to pay my 50Dhs insurance excess. An hour later the rest of the results came back. Half an hour after that he saw the doctor, who was very good!

When queue jumping takes over 4 hours you have to feel sorry for those who patiently wait their turn!

The whole time in the hospital you are not sure where you are supposed to go or what you are waiting for. You get told to go to various locations, but you are not sure why. It seems that the staff know their routines and what everything is, and it is assumed that patients know it all too!

The standard of medical care is good (apart from the odd incident of almost suffocating patients with non-existent oxygen), but the standard of communciation about where to go and why is very poor. And ... I'm not sure that there is actually a triage. It seems that to get urgent attention you need to jump up and down a bit.

Well that was my Saturday! How was yours? Oh, K's much better now.


nzm said...

Jeez - great to know that all's well in the end.

Proper medical care has recently become a major area of concern with me as my nuclear family has been dealing with our first real "brush with death" involving my mother.

A few weeks ago, she suffered heart problems and was resuscitated with CPR in the ambulance on her way to hospital. I'm just so thankful that she was in NZ and had medics who knew what they were doing and did it, and the ambulance arrived within 5 minutes of being called.

Imagine trying to direct an ambulance in the UAE? It would take 30mins on the phone telling them which roundabout to turn at and which shop to look out for and the colour of your house.

Aussie said...

It turns out that each building in Al Ain has a blue plate on it with a number. If you give that number to the emergency services, they'll know exactly where to come. It pinpoints your 'suburb,' street and house. They can get there in no time flat.

One small problem for us is that our building is new and, of course, there's no blue plate on it!

However, in theory there's a workable system in place. We just need people other than the emergency services to know about it. We need expats to be able to use the sytem!

Glad to hear that the outcome for your mum was good.

carlcowin64 said...

Hi Aussie

I have just read your very interesting blog about your hospital visit. Was this Al Ain hospital. I ask because I am comming over in January as the new nurse manager for the Emergency Department (A&E). One of the initial changes I have been tasked with is to improve initall assessment and introduce the concept of triage.

I would be interested in more information about you experience.


Jin said...

Queue jumping is a National past-time in the UAE & you just have to be as rude & ignorant as every other bugger. In cases of emergency, it helps to spit your dummy. I've had a couple of run-ins with the hospital treating Grandma (it's in my blog history) but found after the last incident (where I really lost my rag) that we were treated with the greatest respect. 2 empty oxygen canisters is a bloody disgrace in my opinion, but hopefully the hospital has learned a lesson.

Glad to know all is well again tho & that your partner is getting better :-)

Aussie said...

Carl it was Oasis hospital. I'm not sure which hospital 'Al Ain hospital' is.

If you can get a hospital triage up and running smoothly, you'll have to let us all know which hospital you're at!

Good luck with your new position and 'Welcome to Al Ain.'