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Thai Hospital Grading:

The medical 'taxi'.

My mother-in-law is sick and the two daughters Gaun and Yuan took her to hospital early this morning. The purpose of the post, is not to share that news, which has limited interest, but the process of mama's treatment is a small insight into the medical system here that I thought was worth a mention.

People who have lived in Thailand will know how the system works, but some members will be new to many things Thai. As always I am a great believer that the more you know, the easier it is to settle into the country, once you do.

Mama is being treated in the Thai hospital system, not private, and that means you have to work up through the levels of hospital 'seniority' depending on your location.

We have a small local hospital that services the town of Si Bun Rueang and that has to be the first stop for hospital treatment. An assessment is made and if they feel they can't provide treatment or don't have the equipment required, then they do the paperwork to transfer you to the next level up, the provincial hospital of Nong Bua Lamphu in our case. The same assessment process will happen there, and then the final stop could be one of the bigger hospitals in the next province Udon Thani.

Designed more for tranfers than emergency treatment.

When I first arrived in Thailand one of the mysteries were the many ambulances on the road with lights flashing, but stopped at traffic lights. No sirens and no one giving way for them. I thought that was a pretty odd demonstration of the importance of getting people to hospital. I now know that because of this system of levels, there are a lot of transfers made between hospitals. The ambulances are being used as a medical taxi, rather than a life-saving trip. There is no great emergency, so they tend to flow with the traffic and behave 'normally' to traffic rules.

You will also see ambulances with lights on and a siren, travelling fast. They will go through lights and traffic will try to get out of the way. That is a real emergency.

My stepdaughter Peng, was unable to walk in her early years and my wife Gaun had to work through the full range of hospitals to get her treatment. This was in the day when it involved bus travel, so not easy. They started at Si Bun Rueang, transferred to Nong Bua Lamp, transferred to Udon Thani and finally were taken on by Srinagarind Hospital, the huge university teaching hospital in Khon Kaen, which is where Peng ended up having two major operations that gave her mobility.

Mama on her way. Gaun and Yuan were allowed to ride with her. I am on standby to pick them up.

Of course, all of this immediate treatment provided at practically no cost. I always love references to 'advanced first world countries' - in what way does that classification apply?

Thanks for reading.



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