Student - 10 september 2014

Blog: Getting medical treatment is a pain


Back home in Nepal I used to visit hospitals often as I fall sick very easily. Nothing cures me so soon as antibiotics. So I had brought lots of such medicines with me.

Thanks to the good climate and food, I can say that I have not had the opportunity to visit a general practitioner for a year. Not because I did not fall ill, but I could not get an appointment. I remember the time I was having wisdom tooth pain and dizziness, and I tried to contact a doctor to register for appointment via phone. But I was told to take in fruits and vegetables for a week. If I still had the same condition, I could get an appointment. This led me to take care of myself more than usual, because getting dizzy and trying to make this kind of appointment at the same time would make me even dizzier.

So, knowing that I cannot drop by any hospital at any time, I started to increase my willpower and to develop a self-healing mechanism.

This worked positively, but not in all cases. A friend of mine needed a severe health care as her menstruation would not stop for 14 days. I tried to contact the emergency during the weekend. But I could not understand the instructions because it was in Dutch. I pressed some numbers randomly and came a lady told me that I had to press 2 and that it would take at least 20 minutes to wait for the answer. Losing our temper, my friend decided to rest well and to call back later.

Maybe it’s the typical perception of a foreigner, but I feel that medical conditions cannot be explained on the phone. And if somebody feels ill, there is a serious reason for them to call.

Re:acties 4

  • Ymke

    Health care in Netherlands is different than healthcare in other countries. Our healthcare is based on saving money instead of providing people service. That means that the GP will send you away with your complaints for a few weeks/day in hope that your symptoms and illness will disappear on its own. There are a lot of infections that will disappear on their own. A lot of doctors are also pro natural healing. Not only because it will save money, but because it's more healthier for your body.
    Therefore more and more doctors are aware that the overuse of antibiotics is bad for your body and bad for the society; there are more and more resistant bacteria due to the overuse of antibiotics.
    It's not a bad thing to be sick once in a while and to just sit out your disease. It will make your body stronger.

    And some last advise for international students: think about if you really need the GP before calling him/her. A GP that gets a lot of calls for appointments that are not really necessary will after a while not take every call for an appointment seriously. We Dutch people don't like to bother the GP with everything, like headaches, stomach complaints, colds, fever, etc. We will only call the GP when the illness takes on for days or it will not go away or when it's really seriously (a fever of 40 degrees for example).
    Remember that even healthcare is part of a culture.

    • JH

      @ Ymke

      "Our healthcare is based on saving money instead of providing people service. "

      Sorry, I stopped reading right there. Do you have an idea about the costs of health care in Netherlands to society? Our health care expenditures are the second highest as a percentage of GDP in the world!

  • JH

    Good that Dutch doctors aren't prescribing antibiotics like sweets, however I do agree with Alessandro and Mary that most of 'em have never heard of the concept "service". Really, they don't seem to give a damn about their patients. You have to beg for an appointment, which can only be made during a ridiculous time span of 2 hours a day and when you've finally managed to get one the doctor keeps his own schedule and won't hesitate to let you wait 1 hour while you were on time.

  • Marco

    In my experience the treatment given by GP's in the Netherlands is a major cause of culture shocks for foreigners. Where in many countries your body is stuffed with antibiotics as soon as you get a cold (I remember that on a trip around Anapurna a doctor advised me to take more antibiotics in my luggage than I probably have had in my whole life to that point, and wasn't born 20 years ago neither did I live all of my life in well-protected Holland).

    As harsh as it may sound Mary... your friend survived... didn't she? Dutch doctors are well trained to distinguish bad cases from ailments that can also be cured with a couple of nights of sleep and some lemons, trust me on that. Of course that doesn't help you a lot when you're feeling really ill, but at least it keeps you from poisoning your body and your natural defence system.

  • Alessandro

    My girlfriend (an international PhD at WUR) had the same type of issues with a GP in Wageningen. It's really outrageous that people (their clients!) are treated this way; it really makes my blood boil!
    I advised that she change her GP, but that doesn't really solve the issue. I wonder if a formal complaint would do any good..


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  • Rajesh Joshi

    Mine experience to get an appointment with doctor was very bad. I had an eye infection and I needed some antibiotic eye drops (I knew it was due to infection). I tried to call them, but they asked me to wash with cold water and see for 1-2 days. I had to wait till monday. So, in the next call I really sounded emergency. Infection was giving me a lot of pain. Finally I was able to get appointment and antibiotics eye drop cured it. Unnecessarily I suffered 3 days of extra eye pain and infection.
    Another of my friend had acute gastritis. We wanted to see the doctor; but was not able to meet. So, the secretary gave just paracetamol. Had to go there next day too and finally met a doctor. Prescription for gastritis worked. She suffered acute pain for extra day.