Reply To: Shanghai Hospital Bad Experience!

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Please bear with me as this scenario is difficult to paint without going into such great detail that no one will read the post. But I hope that EVERYONE does read this and I welcome medical professionals and local Shanghainese to comment/defend/condemn what took place.

First, a little background. I am an American and my wife is Chinese (Beijing). We have been living in Shanghai since last July, prior to that we were living in Singapore. Before October 2018, she had never left China and lived in Beijing her whole life. I never lived with her in Beijing, so I can only take her word on how hospitals treat her. I do not speak any Mandarin, learning now…….

Over the weekend we both got a case of food poisoning; me first, then her about 24 hours later. I resisted going to the hospital until I was forced to by my wife. At that point, she called an ambulance. As part of the initial routine, the technician started a saline IV. Once at the Zhong Shan hospital emergency room (where I stayed for about 7 hours), I was very well looked after. A male nurse/technician even pushed my gurney to the toilet every time I needed to go (which was A LOT). The first time, he even held the IV while I squatted to collect a sample (this was before we found the private room with hooks for the bag). Sorry for the imagery, I just feel it is important to the story to understand the level of care I received.

Less than 24 hours later, my wife gets the same symptoms and decides its time to go to the same hospital, this time by taxi. The staff initially speaks Shanghainese to her, which she does not understand at all. The Dr. prescribes an IV and we go to the IV room to have it started. My wife sits at the counter (she is really sick at this point) and the nurse starts giving her instruction in Shanghainese – to which my wife just responds ‘what?’ (instead of telling her that she does not speak that dialect – again, she is very sick/weak at this point). The nurse, now frustrated, becomes very rude and starts prepping the hand for the IV. The needle goes in without issue, but then the nurse wants to pull a sample out while her fist is clinched and the tourniquet is on. She had a very difficult time getting the blood out and was pulling hard on the syringe. At this point she asks another nurse for help, who decides its a good idea to move the needle around in her hand – we could actually see the vein moving around and the needle pressing hard against her skin……I can’t imagine the amount of pain…..At this point I should say that I am embarrassed with how I handled the situation, had I not been about 30+ hours into a food poisoning daze with no sleep, I’m sure I would have done better. If nothing else, gotten the needle out of her hand.

They decide to give up on getting more blood, take the tourniquet off and start the IV. The pain now is so bad that my wife literally locks up – can’t talk, can’t move, every muscle contracted, pale as a ghost. They leave the IV running and call the doctor. The Dr. takes the IV out and tells her to relax and move to another chair away from the counter (the counter where there are other people). The three of them (the 2 nurses and Dr.) then stand back and say and do nothing; while my wife is white and basically in a fetal position in the chair. I finally get her to the point that I can move her to another chair and she asks me for some water. I go across the street and when I return, while she is sitting up, she is still unable to really move her fingers. It turns out that this was only due to the pain and not an adverse reaction to medication and after awhile she is able to go back to the consultation room.

When she sits down with the Dr., the first thing he asks is if she was done with the IV (WTF!)? My wife explains that the nurse really hurt her and that she would like his help with the IV. He tells her that that is not his job, pushes the paperwork back to her and calls the next patient. At this point my wife is irate (and we are both surprised how energy she musters yelling at him!). She gives up and finds what I can only assume was the ‘chief of staff’ for that shift. He talks with the Dr. and tells my wife that he can give her medication to take home…….At the same time one of the other patients in the consultation room is actually making fun of how my wife yelled at the Dr. (but not in a joking manner; in an insulting way – I don’t know Mandarin but some things even I can understand).

I have no doubt in my mind that once the hospital identified her as non-Shanghainese, they no longer cared about her. I don’t know what they would have done had she lost consciousness, but I would be very surprised if it was any more than move her to the location of their choice. This was not just one person; it was 4 people of the medical staff and another patient that had complete disregard for her well-being. Yes, I’ve taken steps to make sure nothing like this ever happens again…..and I will reserve my comments about this hospital. I will say that we went to the Shanghai No. 6 hospital and she was well cared for (or at least as well as can be expected for a local Chinese hospital).

My wife is the type of person that will go to the hospital to get rid of a bad hangover; she has plenty of time spent in Beijing hospitals. I don’t think I need to mention that she would not do that if she was ever treated in this manner…..