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Patients insecure with province- and district-level hospitals in Vietnam: survey

A majority of patients in Vietnam only “feel secure” when they choose senior or “high-ranking” hospitals to be diagnosed or treated in despite the cost not being covered by health insurance.

A majority of patients in Vietnam only “feel secure” when they choose senior or “high-ranking” hospitals to be diagnosed or treated in despite the cost not being covered by health insurance.
A majority of patients in Vietnam only “feel secure” when they choose senior or “high-ranking” hospitals to be diagnosed or treated in despite the cost not being covered by health insurance.

A survey by VnExpress newspaper of over 100 patients in Ho Chi Minh City revealed that most are willing to incur the difficulties of distance, high cost, and waiting time as long as they can have their health symptoms and diseases diagnosed and treated.

Most people believe that doctors and health staff of the “high-ranking” hospitals are better trained and more skillful.

In Vietnam, hospitals are generally divided into two grades.

Those at district and province levels are considered the lower grade and central hospitals belong to the higher grade.

The separation is mainly intended for administrative purposes, for the high-grade hospitals like Cho Ray, Children’s Hospitals 1 and 2, the Orthopedics Hospital and Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City are willing to admit patients at any time.

But to have the cost of treatment covered by health insurance, a patient must come to a local, low-level clinic first. Admission into a higher-grade infirmary is only accepted if he is recommended by the lower-grade one.

Most patients surveyed said they are willing to visit a high-grade hospital and have never even thought of visiting a low-grade clinic when they have become sick.

Nguyen Thi Nga from the southern province of Binh Duong told VnExpress that she is taking her son for treatment at a high-grade hospital in Ho Chi Minh City because she does not believe in the knowledge of doctors at the provincial clinic.

“My sister was injured in a traffic accident and some nails became fixed in her leg bone,” Nga said.

“Five years after that, she was still in pain and taken to the Binh Duong provincial hospital.

“Doctors recommended a surgery to remove the nails.

“But coming to the Orthopedics Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, the doctors here said the nails in her leg bone are OK and that she may not be able to walk if they are removed.

“They prescribed her some medicine and she recovered.”

She added, “So I am willing to travel further, incur a higher cost and wait longer so that I feel secure about my son being treated here.”

“Feeling secure” is the most common reason those polled gave to VnExpress  for their visit to high-grade hospitals.

It is this “feeling secure” that has also caused high-grade hospitals in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to remain in a permanent state of overload for years.