One last self-pitying rant

Back home. Place where they chopped around hurts – but I guess it must. A stretchy corset thing around the waist helps, plus Panadol.

So the grand finale of my first-ever hospitalization took place at the Accounts Dept. In pain, clutching bags of pills and huge envelopes of photos of my innards. Just mail me the bill? No – the Christian charity will not let you leave until you settle in full. I had arrived with one credit card. In two swipes, that was maxed out. Still less than halfway there. Over the phone, I maxed out someone else’s credit card. Finally scraped the rest together via EPS. At one point they offered to escort me to an ATM.

It was the most I’ve ever paid for anything in (more or less) one go. A little more than the 20% deposit I paid for an apartment in 1992. The itemized bill sort of looks padded out, but then a hospital is obviously very expensive to equip and run, and it needs hundreds of highly trained people. Even if the surgeon drove a Honda and used a public golf course, it still wouldn’t be cheap. Not an expert on this. 

I apologize to the thousands of people who have told me over the years, while my mind drifted, that they have ‘been in hospital’ and ‘had an operation’. I never realized it was such utter misery.

Never again, if I can help it. But do read the less-jaundiced view of colonoscopy here.

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16 Responses to One last self-pitying rant

  1. Paul says:

    I would simply have walked out and said “sue me”. There’s no way you should be paying for the hospital’s fuck up. They should have insurance that covers them against that sort of thing. If anything they should be compensating you for pain and suffering due to their incompetence. Put that on the list of things to check next time!

  2. Paul says:

    Oh, and a friend of mine who’s a bit obsessive about getting these tests regularly tells me that the fuck up rate varies substantially from doctor to doctor, and he requires to know their failure (euphemistically “complication”) rate and chooses accordingly. I guess he pays a premium as a result, but I think that’s an area where I wouldn’t look to be saving a few bucks.

  3. Cannotla says:

    I trust you make a full recovery.
    I hope your bank account does too…..
    I trust your insurance policy covers all this; what a nightmare.
    I thank whatever that I have used the government clinics and hospitals for 50+ years and they have never let me down.
    Floriat HA!

  4. Paul says:

    And one last thing – if this does happen in future then since this was only a “semi-emergency” surgery then I would simply say that I could not afford to pay and insist on being transferred to Queen Mary’s where the repair work would be essentially free.

  5. Frances Gumm says:

    Dear Hemlock,

    Don’t worry about the self-pitying rant. Most of us have moved on already.

  6. Mary Melville says:

    ” the Christian charity will not let you leave until you settle in full”.
    Yeah the same charities that get land from the government for a token sum, interest free loans for construction and PAY NO TAX.
    No access to their accounts and no indication as to how the profits are spent/distributed.
    It is only recently and under pressure from an understanding of Beijing’s ‘expectations’ have they offered to help relieve the pressure on public hospitals due to rising Covid infections.
    A review of their modus operandi and opaque practices is long overdue.
    In a situation as described the patient has every right to refuse to pay a bill that greatly exceeds the presumably agreed sum for the procedure and call the police if held prisoner.

  7. justsayin says:

    I’ve had this same experience at a hospital over on Beautiful Island… 10 grand USD equivalent in Beautiful Island Bucks and the cashier made me count it out in front of her by hand after I’d just had major surgery in order that I might leave the hospital.

  8. George says:

    I thought I was having a hear attack while driving, and turned into Tseung Kwan O hospital. ECG, xrays, blood tests, etc, and an overnight stay. The parking fee was more than the hospital fee, which was only $140.

  9. asiaseen says:

    Start saving to hire a competent medical negligence lawyer.

  10. asiaseen says:

    And most important make a record asap of what you can remember of the pre-op briefing – were you clearly warned this might happen?

  11. Really not nice says:

    Hemlock, Mary, Paul, Asia seen.

    Various points.

    Make detailed record as soon as possible “in anticipation of litigation” so privileged from having to produce to any defendants.

    Get good med neg lawyer. Will suggest if required.

    Get copy med recs now, plus recording etc.

    Do search of performing doctor as to complaints, past claims etc.

    As to hospital was it the Canossa? Acted for a man far from home, on virtually none existent wage, placed there by employer. Stopped paying when got v polite sols letter.

    Accounts manager then attended paraplegic patient on daily basis as to how to pay. Ended up in a charitable dump until several years later got some money.

    In many years of litigation the defence lawyers HFW were the biggest set of sh1ts I have ever dealt with.

    If they moan as to the above, files still exist.

  12. Herr Torquewrench says:

    I DID have a heart attack, and then nearly had a second when they presented me with the bill.

  13. Dr Zhivago says:

    Hoping for your recovery. Getting home is a major win

    Although, don’t mind this comment please, but I’ve never experienced or heard about a hospital bill totting up to 20% of a flat deposit. Even if the flat was purchased a couple of decades ago that’s still a couple of million.

    Not meaning to split hairs. In principle agreed that hospitals are scavenging businesses first and Angels of Mercy a distant third (maybe fifth).

  14. Fresh Towels says:

    My father worked 40 years in the National Health Service in the UK. He didn’t have much time for private hospitals because, if anything went wrong, the patient was immediately transferred to a public hospital. And as public hospitals are dealing with people day in day out, they often have more experience, which is why my kids were born on Hospital Road instead of the Peak. A bit like if you have a gunshot wound, you probably want an Iraqi or Afghan surgeon. Anyway, speedy recovery.

  15. Leader says:

    @Mary Melville
    You are so on the money (as you were last time,

    Just this month YMCA bumped their facility rental rates by 30%. We now pay 2.5 times the rate in 2007, for an annualised rise of 6.5%, well above my pay packet’s increments.

  16. Henry says:

    The bill was such because private medical care in HK is a rip off. The actual cost (as opposed to the couple of hundred dollars billed to patients) of these procedures in the public health system would be a fraction of the cost you paid. Oh, and you probably had half a dozen treatments, procedures or drugs that you didn’t really need in all that.
    After the US, private care in HK is the most expensive in the world.

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