Being a Patient in a Pakistani Hospital

Posted on January 8, 2008
Filed Under >Syed Ahsan Ali, Economy & Development
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Syed Ahsan Ali

Being a chronic cardiac patient, I get severe pneumonia often which usually takes me to one of the largest private health facility in the largest city of Pakistan. I have been to the same hospital three times in the past five years so I understand how things operate there. But this time, things looked a lot more disturbing. This forced me to think that if such are the conditions in the best private hospital, then how bad they could be in the public sector hospitals.

I got ‘shifa‘ (health) in the same private hospital so I do not want to sound like a thankless soul. They have been fairly nice, cooperative, caring and professionals to help me out of my suffering but at the same time I noticed incidents of negligence that have left me disturbed.

For example, I saw an old lady-patient slipping and falling to the ground through the hands of physiotherapists. I saw a highly critical dengue-fever patient waiting to be taken to ICU for 5 painstakingly long hours. I also witnessed doctors mistreating an old lady who was completely devastated with her husband’s sickness after losing her 20 year old son few months back. Let’s get to the detail of all these incidents separately so this piece becomes a eye-witness account.

The old lady got floored by the mistake of a trained and stern-looking doctor, not by any untrained nursing staff. The old lady must have been at least 70 years old. She was on the dialysis and could neither see or hear properly. Once she got better after going through dialysis, the physiotherapist left her grounded during physiotherapy session. It was an awful feeling for the family as for all those who saw it. It is a pity that after paying whatever they ask for, a patient gets such poor treatment by hospital staff.

Similarly another case of maltreatment happened in front of my eyes. A patient hailing from NWFP who needed emergency care after a horrible night of profuse bleeding due to dengue fever was delayed by few hours because there was no one in the staff willing to take him there. The routine shift of 8 hours was near its end and the staff kept waiting for their next shift to come and perform their duty otherwise they had to include that task in their sheet. It was painful to see nurses and staff going through their routine tasks gingerly and delaying shifting one critical patient just because they had other important chores to do. The patient’s family was not too comfortable with Urdu or English language so they were looking helplessly at the staff with tears in their eyes waiting for some divine help to arrive.

Another incident that brought tears in my and my sister’s eyes was when we saw a 60 year old lady running after a 30 year old lady doctor for the prescription so that the old lady could go outside and arrange for the medicine herself. The old lady did not know that it is hospital’s responsibility to arrange for any kind of medication but that ruthless doctor had other important tasks at hand and she didn’t bother to tell that poor lady that it is not a public hospital where one needs to run after doctors for prescriptions and medications. That old lady did not have enough money to wait for her husband’s complete treatment, did not have attendants to stay with her husband overnight. She also had lost her 20 year old son in an accident recently and didn’t have enough tears left in her eyes to shed over her husband.

I understand that these incidents may be exceptions and that most people, at this hospital at least, are treated much better. But even as exceptions, these incidents seem unacceptable.

All this happened at one of the most illustrious and respected hospitals in the country. One that is supposed to be as good as any in the world. It made me wonder what could happen to the poor patients in public hospitals like at Jinnah, Civil, Abbassi Shaheed hospital suffering from dengue fever, pneumonia, malaria, food poisoning and all sorts of terrible diseases amidst the careless, non-professional and stone-hearted staff when all this can happen in the topmost private sector hospital?

I think about it and first I thank my God I have been given enough to be able to afford a private hospital and secondly I pray that hopefully we would solve our major problems such as wardi (uniform), jamhooriat (democracy), and azaad adlia (independent judiciary) and look towards our other problems such as health, education, and poverty – problems that beset all Pakistanis everyday.

21 responses to “Being a Patient in a Pakistani Hospital”

  1. Sulaiman says:

    After what I read here I’ll say that whatever you people said is 100% correct and there is a lot more to it.Being a doctor myself I believe that health care in this country is terrible and turned into a dirty business no matter what hospital you go to.The only difference you see in a high profile hospital will be that it will be cleaner than a government hospital and it will have some expensive equipment otherwise nothing is exceptional there.I prefer to sit idle at home than join these brutal doctors in these hospitals.This is one of the reasons that the few doctors who are a little ethical cannot work in such conditions and leave for other countries with better human rights care.I know at this moment you people might be thinking that we should stay and fight against them but such people do not want anyone to stick around who is even a little bit ethical and they push us out cause they are in total control.
    I have numerous stories of injustice done to poor patients that I have witnessed and i’m sure that it must nothing compared to the actual magnitude of the situation.All I have to say is that pray that you or your loved ones do not get sick and if they do,you should have some close relatives as doctors.

  2. adiqa says:

    good for us to research

  3. This is not in only one hospital it is all around the Pakistan. In our village in District Haripur there is a big hospital of 40 bed but no MBBS doctor there from three years.

    And this is true doctors don’t treat their patients well at all. I don’t know why.

  4. Aisha says:

    Below are the detail of complaint letter my wife wrote to Shifa International Hospital, and they have not provided any feedback. Therefore kindly post it on your blog so other readers don’t go through the same ordeal. Plus the complaint doesn’t work on their website.


    “Before I start on my complaint, I am not going to give you the patient name, the MR number, nor the appoint time. As, I am speaking on behalf of everyone (the patients) that were being attended in the OPD at that time. I called 2.5 weeks before my appointment to see Dr. ********* for consultation. They confirmed me a specific time to be at the Shifa International Hospital. In fact, I arrived 10 min before the time that had been allotted to me. Upon arrival I contacted the OPD front desk of my arrival; they took my OPD slip and told me to have a seat. After 45 minutes of waiting I asked the front desk, as to what is the status of my consultation with Dr. *********. The hospital employee replied, please have a seat, and you will be called once your turn comes. Yeah sure, like I don’t know that this will happen. What a stupid way to give answer.

    Several patients who came after me had already visited Dr. *******. Then after 1 hour and 30 minutes, I got pretty furious and again approached the front desk again and again I was given the same response as before. My husband and I were really pissed off at the service being provided at such a prestigious hospital in Islamabad. I expected at least some courtesy on behalf of staff, which was never given to us. Then my husband had enough of waiting, and approached Dr. ******* *****’s nurse of what is going on? She stated that they have lost my file and are looking for it.

    After such a long wait they were telling us now that we have lost your file!!!!. What a pathetic and irresponsible patient service. I feel very disgusted even just mentioning the service of SHIFA INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL. Then my husband started screaming and yelling at the staff as to why I was not provided this information before. All the patient who were sitting in the waiting lounge acknowledged the circumstances at that moment. After my husband screamed, my file was found within 5 minutes and was called into the *******’s office. I wish he would screamed when we came 1 hr before, our file would never have been lost then. Now here is the problem with my consultation with Dr. **********.

    When I walked into the Dr. ******’s office there were already 2 patients sitting in there. She was consulting three patients at a time and one patient was lying down behind curtains. She saw my report and said everything was fine. I had list of questions to ask her and she didn’t even acknowledge my existence. While I was asking her question, she started talking to other patient in the room and walked behind the curtains to attend the patient lying down. I was frustrated on the way Dr. ******* acted, that I left the room. I and all the patient expect to have a doctor and patient privacy. I don’t want any other patient or employee hearing my case. After I came out of Dr. ******’s room, I went to the Administration office for complaint of what I have been through.

    I asked the person at the front desk to have a meeting with the Operations Manager to file my complaint. The front desk person call some low level employee to hear my complaint. His name was *******. He took me took his office, which was Patient Coordinator Office where he heard the complaint. He said it to me to write the complaint down and submit it to him. WHAT THE HELL!!! I AM SUPPOSED TO WRITE IT DOWN. I AM NOT GETTING PAID TO WRITE DOWN COMPLAINT AS YOU ALREADY HAVE STAFF TO DO THIS!!!! ******** is the one who heard my complaint and he should be the one writing it down. IN CONCLUSION. I EXPECTED A HIGH CLASS HOSPITAL THAT HAD INTERNATIONAL IN ITS NAME TO PROVIDE AN OUTSTANDING SERVICE MEETING THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS. INSTEAD I WAS TREATED IN A VERY LAME MANNER THAT WAS REALLY PAINS TAKING. WHEN I PAID MY CONSULTATION FEE, I WANT A STATE OF THE ART SERVICE, NOT A SERVICE THIS IS COMPARABLE TO LOW LEVEL GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL THAT PROVIDE SERVICE FOR 5 RUPEES.”

  5. Khan Sahab says:

    Mr. Alvi said: “But what is stopping our upper middle class and rich from getting involved. Why these classes are not willing to help out our

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