If medical care is required in Saudi Arabia, whether one is a Saudi national or an expat, I wish to assure anyone reading this post that professional and competent care is widely available. I had the luck (or misfortune?) of requiring several operations and other treatments in Saudi Arabia. However the point of this post is to remind everyone to be their own advocate and take control of his or her care regardless if in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere.
While I have found the professionalism and experience of Saudi doctors to be without fault, one significant area where I believe Saudi Arabia still lags a bit behind compared to other places is proactively providing a patient with information. Doctors will respond readily to questions which are asked but what about if a patient is not informed enough to know which questions to ask in the first place? There does seem to be more of a tendency with physicians in Saudi to have the ailment or procedures addressed and treated but not receive adequate information for the future after one has been discharged. For example after having had a mastectomy with reconstruction surgery it was not until I investigated and found information via various web sites that I learned about more ways I could make myself comfortable as I recuperated from the procedure at home.
I also wish to remind everyone that as an individual, we are the ones who best know our body and when something is amiss. If you feel you are being short-changed or not understood by a physician who does not seem to take your condition seriously, do not be shy to consult with another doctor. In my opinion any physician who dares to say an ailment is “all in ones head” is a physician to stop seeing immediately! And to further illustrate how one needs to be his or her own advocate and that oversights do not take place only in Saudi Arabia, I will share another personal experience while in the United States.
I required to have a biopsy performed and was scheduled to go to a facility for the procedure. On arrival the facility had biopsy slides already labeled with my name and location where the biopsy was to be performed. However once the procedure started, it was realized that the original area for a biopsy was too delicate of an area and an alternative area had to be selected. It was not until I had regrouped with my primary physician to review results that I caught that the report from the facility identified the biopsy area as the original area and not the actual area where the biopsy was performed. I pointed this out to my primary physician who contacted the facility immediately. The facility confirmed my finding and amended my records accordingly. Although in my case the results did not change my physician’s diagnosis or plans it is imperative to ensure medical records are correct to avoid any future problems due to human error.
Do not be shy or afraid to speak up to a physician. Do ask questions. Keep informed. One web site I have found useful to answering some of my questions in advance or helping me to prepare questions to review with a physician is the web md web site. Do not use this web site in place of a doctor!!
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