Fleecing Doctors In Colombo
By Dr. Harold Gunatillake
An email circulating from a retired expat doctor from UK is raising eyebrows of many locals and expats, in paradise and abroad. It is causing some degree of scarring to the well-respected Sri Lankan specialists, detrimental to their profession, and bringing in a lot of negative feelings for the medical practitioners in paradise. Let us go into more details about this email, sent by a retired expatriate MBBS doctor, not satisfied with the way he was treated, mainly the professional side.
The email heads: Private hospitals – for better or for worse?
“I am a retired doctor. I went to a private hospital in Colombo for a general check-up. It cost me nearly Rs 4000.
An MBBS doctor looked at my chest x-ray and said I have a shadow in the left lung and asked me to get a Filarial blood test done and also referred me to a Cardiologist to get an Echo –cardiogram done.
This cost me another Rs 2800.
The Cardiologist did the Echo-Cardiogram and said my heart is normal. He never looked at my ECG or X-ray.
When I asked him about the lung shadow he said I can go to “Dr.So and So” at Durdans and that he dealt with only the heart. I was too shocked to speak.
He said he could do a Treadmill Test, which again tests the heart. When I asked the doctor how much it cost he said Rs 2800.
The irony is that he had already said that my heart was normal.
This doctor would have got part of the money if I got this test done.
I am not sure whether he realized I was a doctor or he thought I was a fool.
They are so greedy. I cannot imagine how they must be taking money from lay people.
I told the Cardiologist point blank that they knew how to fleece people and left without getting the Treadmill Test (which I did not need) done.
Thank you for reading this letter. I will never go to this private hospital situated in Colombo 3 again.
It is such a shameless place.
We were taught at Medical School to treat the whole patient and not to treat them organ by organ
like they do at some of the private hospitals”.
By Raja Retired doctor.
It appears to me that this retired doctor who came for a holiday in Sri Lanka, wanted to hit two birds with one stone, by having a cheap medical check-up, which is not available in the public NHS scheme in the UK, and privately, the price would be too exorbitant and may be unaffordable…
This seems to be the normal trend, for expatriates visiting the island for a holiday; the ladies shopping around in “House of Fashion” queued up for long hours and sweating, with make-up melting or at Odel’s in Union Place, having, maybe an affluent lifestyle in the domiciled havens like United Kingdom, America, Canada, and Australia, among other countries, visiting paradise to have a ‘ball’ and also getting the satisfaction of having a ‘medical’ from the local medical profession. The client would boast after a visit to a local specialist, “Yes, the specialist said my blood pressure is too high, but okay for my age”. The latter part of the doctor’s wisdom, makes the client happy, like most going to Kataragama to get the blessings of “Kataragama Deviyo”.
Mind you readers, this doctor did not visit the cardiologist for a diagnosis of any illness, but a random check-up for mental relief, for fear of approaching closer to the ‘Home’, meaning hell or heaven.
The retired expat doctor is now a bit concerned about doling out Rs 4000, (a tip in London for a waiter is 5 sterling pounds, equivalent to approximately Rs 1,000). In paradise he has paid peanuts, for an examination by a GP, resting ECG and a chest X ray. Possibly, the doctor may be having a private ‘BUPA’ health insurance cover to claim, as if he has suffered a dreadful disease in the tropic.
The cardiologist quite ethically claimed that he looks after the heart and for the chest he may have to see a chest physician at Durdan’s. The heart doctor was prepared to do a stress cardiograph for Rs. 2,800, which are again peanuts for the ex-pat doctor. The cardiologist quite rightly recommended the treadmill ECG which more diagnostically detects any heart strain. The resting ECG may even give a normal healthy picture of a false situation, and you may drop dead a few minutes later. This is my personal experience with some of my clients. The readers should know that the specialist is by your side for 10 minutes, monitoring the ECG tracing for “ST segment” changes, recording pulse and blood pressure intermittently. And all that for a ‘peanut price’.
Of course, whilst the doctor is getting the medical check-up invariable the wife and family, would be spending sterling pounds at the fashion houses, as the clothes are much cheaper than at ‘Marks & Spence’, and the choice is unbelievable in paradise shops.
These expats could buy all the traditional foods, like indiappans, rottie, hoppers, lamprai, and all that in UK, but the free meals they enjoy with local loved ones, makes them feel that they have ‘had a ball’ in paradise, whilst the host or hosts are struggling here to pay their electricity bill. These expats are given the best of affordable hospitality including free transport from and to Katunayake airport. Why do they come and complain about the alleged fleecing doctors when they pay peanuts in paradise, have a glorious memorable holiday, to return again, in a year?
“May the Triple Gem guard them”, if these expats are Buddhists, or if they worship a God, may the Lord bless them!
By the way the complainant lives in up-market Surrey.