See the comments at the end!
I had a wholly satisfying encounter tonight with the Swiss medical system. It started, as you might imagine, with a worry: I appeared to have a deep vein thrombosis (clot, aka DVT), which in the worst cases can be fatal. I was processed promptly, with good news, at a good price.
Chief complaint: swelling, redness and pain in the foot
Last week while traveling I developed what seemed to be gout: a painfully swollen big toe joint. Long story short, five days and a long overseas flight later the symptoms had shifted and I wondered if it could now be a DVT. My doctor, with images and discussion via Skype & email but unable to physically examine me, said yes, I should go have it checked out.
Great: nothing like looking for medical services in a strange city, I mean strange country. Where to go? What’s this going to cost this uninsured foreigner? How long will I wait?
My trip host and the hotel desk agreed I should go to the walk-in clinic at the railroad station, across the street. Ginny and I gathered our things, and 15 minutes later we’d found the clinic and were waiting in line, with one person ahead of us. I checked in, and ten minutes later was called into an exam room.
To make a long story short, an hour later we were out of there, having received:
- Initial consult with a nurse
- Initial meeting and exam with a doctor
- Blood work – CBC and D-Dimer, which he said would check for a by-product of clotting. (If it’s negative, no clot; if positive, more tests.)
- Results, discussion (D-Dimer was negative – must be the gout), and discharge instructions
- A syringe of heparin (blood thinner) for Ginny to inject in me before our flight home Friday – just in case, as a safety measure against possible DVT during the flight home.
Total bill: 292 Swiss francs … $308. And 75 minutes after we walked in, we were on our way to a late dinner.
I can’t help but wonder what this would have cost in any American clinic. But, no matter; I was very happy. Heck, I’ve had trips to the barber shop that took longer than this.
Here’s to Klinik St. Anna, the hospital that runs this walk-in clinic. I couldn’t have been happier with the people, the service, and the caring experience. And the price was great for the service received.
See, America, it can be done! Let’s do it.