The next visit to another medical facility in Jeddah brought in more patient woes Image Credit: Supplied

By sheer coincidence, this past week three relatives were admitted at three different hospitals in Jeddah for three different maladies. And during my visit to each one of them, there was a story to be told.

Now these hospitals located around the city of Jeddah are privately owned and run and are among the creme de le creme in hospital care, or that was what is generally told. And as I visited my patient at the first hospital, I was impressed with the furnishings, the decor, and the general layout, giving it a more luxurious feel than hospitals of the past.

My friend who had been admitted there was not quite impressed. “Forget about the furnishings, Tariq,” he tells me. “It is patient care I am concerned about. And frankly, I am very disappointed. Do you know that they took several attempts to insert the needle in my vein to hook up those plasma bottles without success? Finally, I got fed up with their obvious lack of know-how and demanded to have a doctor perform this simple procedure. I mean, come on, this is one of the basic functions of a qualified nurse, and they were not up to par.”

As he had been in there for a few days, he went on to tell me that when nurses were going off the following day, they would come to him and seemingly remind him that it was going to be their day off and they may not see him again if he was discharged.

“What they were doing was blatantly soliciting for baksheesh (a reward) if you know what I mean. Just imagine, the nerve. I would normally honour nurses who took good care of me with flowers or small gifts on my departure, but this was preposterous.” Bidding him a speedy recovery, I suggested that he include all these observations on the survey he would receive at the end of his stay. Hopefully, management would act on the corrections.

More patient woes

The next visit to another facility brought in more patient woes. This was a fairly new hospital named after a famed surgeon. This hospital promoted state-of-the-art care. Ahmed, a relative who had gone in for surgery was very disappointed with patient relations.

“To begin with, although my company provides full medical insurance, the insurance rep at the hospitable began bartering as to what services they would be liable for. I am the patient here and I had to have the surgery based on the doctor’s recommendations. I do not have the time or patience to argue with some insurance bureaucrat on medical issues. The hospitable politely told me they would not interfere and that it was up to me to resolve the issue.”

He continued, “And that was not all. I had to run around during my pre-operation tests from department to department without any guidance. In one department, they asked me why I was there. When I told them the nursing station sent me there, they started arguing with me. I am the patient for God’s sake. Do I need this before surgery?”

By the time I made my visit to my third relative at another hospital, I was curious to know if his experiences were any better. He was on the verge of being discharged that afternoon. After inquiring about his health and well-being, I asked him about his three days stay there. “Never again,” he retorted. “A top private facility with third-class operations.

I started with an argument with the anaesthesiologist just before my surgery as he blamed me for following the pre-ops requirements. He insisted that he was correct when I told him I had stopped certain medications at the prescribed time before surgery. Here I was on the operating table and this doctor is making my blood pressure rise, trying to prove he is right.”

Fortunately, I was put out completely during the operation otherwise I would have reached out across the operating table and slugged his face. That’s how mad he made me. And for the three days, I have been here, I have not seen the doctor who performed my surgery. I have questions. And today they call me early in the morning telling me I had to check out by 11am.

When I told them I was waiting for the final discharge by the doctor and my take-home medication, the person on the other end simply slammed the phone down. At about every few minutes I keep getting calls to vacate the room with nothing being said about my medications.”

I helped Ahmed get his medications and with the discharge and he was happy to get out of there. But it leads me to wonder why hospital administration at these 5-star institutions is so poorly managed?

The patient cares nothing about wood panelling or marble floors or fancy artwork. His oe her expectations are of good medical care in a clean facility and when that fails, then the hospital has failed him.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena