Patient Story: University Student Faces Surgery in Wuhan, China

I am hoping that Ethics Beyond Compliance can become a place for patients and caregivers to share their stories of medicine, medical research, illness, and loss. The following post is by a university student in Wuhan, China who had to undergo surgery and spend 12 days in the hospital (for less than $1,000). Here is her story.

Wuhan, China

In the end of May 2014, after few really spicy meals, I had dysentery. A few days later, things became worse, so I went to the eighth hospital of Wuhan, which specializes in anorectal diseases.

Knowing that I needed surgery, I felt very nervous and insecure. Then my dad asked one of our relatives, who is also a proctologist, about this hospital and the doctors here. My relative recommended a doctor for me. I went to see the doctor, and he agreed with the former doctor. At first he said he would perform surgery the day after but later told me he had some other business for the day after, so we had to do the operation that day, which was children’s day, 1st of June.

They gave me an enema first, and then had me do a lot of tests such as blood test, allergy test and so on. Later, a nurse came in and gave me a tranquilizer to prepare for the operation. Then another nurse came in to lead me to the operation room. I signed some paper for anesthesia. After a while, there was an angry nurse for the operation who, I guess, frowned on my skirt. I said “sorry,” but she kept frowning on me, which made me very upset and a little bit angry. During the preparation, I asked the angry nurse why she seemed so unhappy, and she said it was just work, nothing else. Then she tried to give me injection. But somehow she had no luck. She gave me three injections in the wrong place, which hurt me a lot. I tried to calm her and said, “It’s okay, don’t be nervous,” but the truth is deep down I felt I could not bear one more try. My hands were very swollen. Finally, the fourth went okay. During the injection a man gave me anesthesia. I could not feel my legs, and then the doctor came and asked me to kneel on my front.

I could not tell what was going on there, but I could hear what they said. The angry nurse checked my wound and said, “Ew, that’s big wound.” Then the doctor said he didn’t expect such a big one either. And he said he would show me my files later, but I said “No, thank you.” Somehow another nurse came in, made some comments and flirted with the doctor. Then another doctor in, also judged my wound, and said something that was not very nice. I swallowed it all in. I felt so assaulted and humiliated, but I could not do anything. Finally, it was over. They used the bed to send me back to my room.

I guess it’s because of the anesthesia that I still could not feel much. Only tired, exhausted. After having some fluid, I fell asleep. I remember around 3 o’clock, I was awoken by severe pain. I could not even cry loud, but somehow my aunt heard me. She woke up the caregiver, whom we hired that day. The caregiver came and helped me to pee; I felt like peeing but owing to the anesthesia and the pain, I found it difficult. After three painful hours, I finally did it. With the help of two painkillers the caregiver gave me, I fell asleep again.

Every time I woke up, I was in great pain. Still I had four more days of injections. The younger nurse tried to give me an injection but she failed and asked an elder nurse; however, the elder nurse gave me even more pain. Then there came a middle-aged nurse who smiled a lot at me even though she felt nervous while giving me the injection. I think she is the first nurse I met in the hospital who made me feel comfortable.

My dad checked on me from time to time, told me the doctor asked for more money for this operation because of my large wound. I checked the bills and found mistakes. I told one nurse, and she said she would check on it but later, and then I got no response.

I spent 12 days in the hospital, and the whole operation cost me 5,618 RMB ($905.00) not including the caregiver.

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
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