A Visit to the ER in the Philippines

Always Be Careful.

When working around the house and the yard, I have learned to be especially careful to take things safe and slow. Simple injuries like burns, scrapes, cuts, and even severe contusions, can be cause for concern. While living in the Philippines, westerners can be exposed to many foreign bacteria that our immune systems have never been exposed to before. Most expats, being over 50 years of age, should know that it takes longer for an abrasion or cut to heal, or to get over an illness, due to age. Our bodies just aren’t as young and vigorous as they once were.

When supporting plants, I have learned to use steel rebar as a support. Rebar works well because of its rusty appearance, and its tendency to camouflage itself into the plant. I’ve used bamboo stakes in the past but they rot rather quickly and are also subject to attract wood-boring insects, like termites. I use black cable ties to support the trunk of a plant around the rebar that is inserted into the ground.

Stuff Happens!

Last week, while working in the garden, I attempted to (hastily I might add) push a short piece of rebar into the ground when my hand slipped and punctured the base of my left forefinger, just above my palm. It was a deep enough wound (from a rusty piece of rebar) where I thought I would better served by going to the hospital for a Tetanus Shot. The hospital where I play tennis at was my first choice – the Seventh Day Adventist Sanitarium Hospital in Calbayog City – mostly because I know some of the people who work there. I walked into admissions and they immediately sent me to the Emergency Room where I was met by the on-duty nurse. I had cleaned up my wound before I got there so there was no need for treatment or bandaging. The nurse initially consulted a hospital Dr. by phone and she was instructed to issue me two shots. One test was an equestrian tetanus test (epidural) and the other was a tenanus vaccine. The horse vaccine was supposedly used to see if I would test positive or negative to the other vaccine. In this case, I needed a “positive” reaction to tetanus for the other shot to be effective. Confused? I sure was. I always thought a tetanus shot was a tetanus shot.

The new Emergency Room at the Sanitarium Hospital

The new Emergency Room at the Sanitarium Hospital

The Cost of Medical Care.

I was given a prescription for the vaccine, a syringe, and two needles, and was sent to the pharmacy to pick-up these items for the Emergency Room nurse to administer my injections. I also was prescribed antibiotics and pain-killer for the injury. That’s right, I had to actually purchase the Tetanus vaccine, the equestrian serum, and the two syringes, pay for them, and bring them back to the ER. After I was administered the shots, I was told to hang around for 30 minutes for the first “epidural” shot to be examined. As it turned out, my forearm indicated some redness and swelling and it turned out to be a “positive” result. Because of that, I needed to see a doctor to confirm the positive result which cost me an additional consultation fee. The positive reading was confirmed by the Dr. and that was good news, I suppose, and I was sent on my way, but not before having the Dr.’s consultation fee added to my bill.

The cost breakdown:

ER visit      – P96
Pharmacy  – P330 (vaccine, serum, antibiotic, and pain killer)
Dr. consult – P200

Total –          P626 (or about $13.18USD)

At these costs, I did not even feel compelled to file a claim against my insurance. I think I’ll save that effort for something more serious… (knocking on wood!)