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Seeing a doctor

The quality of the doctors in China varies greatly. Even in the best hospital of Shenzhen (Peking University hospital) the quality does not always seem as good. One example: I went to the hospital and when you register for a consult, you need to say if you want to see an expert doctor or just anyone. We picked an expert (it was only 8RMB in total anyway!). After waiting for a while in the waiting room, the doctor could see us. Downstairs we had read her resume, and it looked impressive. But what a shock!

She was not only totally clueless, she was even agressive and patronizing. Of course I won't go into the details, but suffice to say that I know what I was coming for and this doctor just made totally the wrong judgements. She just plainly refused to examine me! I've really never encountered anything like this before. Such a person is totally unsuitable to be a doctor. We were both totally shocked at the level of incompetence and the rudeness. Luckily my girlfriend convinced her to give our ticket back and we went to the second expert on duty. This guy was totally the opposite: he seemed to know what he was doing and took the time for me and listened to us. The first female doctor already had her diagnosis before we were in: I don't speak English. Sigh

Morale of the story: be very careful which doctor you get and don't trust on reputation. Some doctors are just utter garbage and should immediately be removed from their position because of the risks they pose to patients who are unaware of their complete and utter lack of skills. I'm considering writing a letter to the hospital, but this will probably be useless. You don't become the 'expert' of a department without being connected...

The upside: healthcare (if you are lucky enough to get a good doctor) is REALLY cheap in China. All consults I saw were less than 10Y and small surgeries are less than 1000Y in total.


So if this experience did not scare you away from Chinese hospitals, here is the survival guide:

  1. Bring someone who speaks Chinese and knows the Chinese translations of all the medical terms you want to ask about
  2. Hospitals generally work from 8:30 - 12 and from 14:15 to 17:3o or so. Make sure you come early in the morning to register. If you arrive for example at 11:30, it's likely that the morning quota has been reached (many people waiting still) and you can only start to register again around 12h and then need to wait till 14h. It's also best to avoid weekends, as everyone goes to the hospital then.
  3. You need to register in the hospital and you will get a green book where the doctor will write your history. I'm not actually sure there is a digital record as well. All registration forms are in Chinese. All doctors speak Chinese.
  4. Consulting a doctor is really cheap : 3-8Yuan. They make money by treating as many patients as possible.
  5. Don't expect too much privacy. If you are lucky, you can close the door yourself when you have your consult with the doctor. Often one consulting room is shared between several doctors, so everyone can hear what you are talking about.
  6. You can more-or-less pick anything you like to do. If you want them to cut you open, that's NO problem - as long as you pay of course. First pay, then they will do anything for you. 
  7. If you don't have some common problem, be very very suspicious of the diagnosis and perhaps just try to get a second opinion: you might as well just register for two consults immediately. The price is not the problem :)

Chinese hospitals are really the opposite from Dutch hospitals:

  1. No need to make an appointment for a consult several days or weeks in advance
  2. It's very cheap
  3. It's very busy
  4. Quality varies a lot
  5. It somehow seems to handle massive amounts of people


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Gerwin  - Hopelijk ben je weer beter     | |2010-01-07 20:29:20
hahaha , ik heb dat dus ook eens gehad met een voedselvergiftiging geeft dat wijf me antibiotica kortom binnen een paar uur was ik nog zieker . Toen gingen we naar een beter ziekenhuis vlakbij Xiangmi Hu , had ook een Chinees meegenomen , chinees maakte ruzie met die dokter werden er allerlei echo's en rontgenphotos gemaakt en werd ik aan het infuus gelegd , kreeg een berg pillen mee dat leek te helpen voor 1 dag , toen weer terug naar dat ziekenhuis , Chinees werd nog bozer toen kreeg ik een of andere modderachtige drap mee en toen was ik binnen een dag beter . Was toen wel een kleine 1500 rmb verder en die pillen maar aan die Chinese vriend meegegeven .

Wat wel appart is dat je in dat ziekenhuis komt en dan zitten daar dus gewoon een man of 100 aan het infuus in een rijtje uiteraard wel met enorme lcd televisie voor hun porum en als ze het niet snel genoeg gaat dan zet je het infuus gewoon weer wat verder open .... wifi was trouwens ook aanwezig voor wie een laptop bij zich had. De hygienische omstandigheden zijn gewoon heel slecht
Also living in shenzhen   | |2010-06-28 05:46:51
The doctors make money from medicine they prescribe. If a doctor believes that you are rich and you are not "connected" with him/her, expensive medicine will be prescribed. If it's not too much trouble, seeing a private doctor in HK is a much safer option.
dustin  - live in shenzhen     | |2010-10-26 23:38:36
I think you should choose the right doctor for seeing.
And you 'd better go with someone knows chinese.
Thijs  - unfortunately   | |2010-10-27 10:26:48
it's not so simple. If you pick the "best" hospital in the city. And then pick the "expert" doctor in the right specialization and then still that person has NO CLUE what you are asking and even refusing to examine you... that can mean two things: most doctors are bad, or titles don't mean anything.
lin mckenzie  - is it any western hospital or clinic?   | |2010-10-29 19:53:13
We are moving to Shenzhen in end of December 2010. We are concerning about the hospital too. Is it any western hospital or clinic in Shenzhen? it is too far to go to HK for doctor? We have two young children, so we would like to go to the western hospital for treatment.
Thijs   | |2010-10-29 21:54:23
There are some western clinics in Shenzhen. I heared of Can Am Medical center in Shenzhen (, but the comments are mixed. I would suggest the following: for minor things, just go to a Chinese (private) hospital. This might be difficult if none of you speaks Chinese though. HK is very close by, depending on where you live exactly. It takes only 10 minutes to the border from where I live. One problem is that you need to cross the border everytime which is very frustrating, especially when there are very long queues. I've heared good stories about HK health care though, so for serious cases this is definitely a good option.
I can not say  - Bob   | |2011-03-12 22:32:18
As someone who as represented many attending hospitals my advice is never go. Simple. You own it to yourself and family. I could write a thesis on this.

3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 June 2009 )
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