Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Bloody Qtips and Chinese Hospitcal Hygeine

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2012


The other day I had to go to a Chinese hospital/gulag camp. While there, I had to give a blood sample, which I figured could not be too problematic a thing to do.

Upon arriving at the designated location, however, I spied those little blood speckled qtips on the floor at my feet….

yeah, here I am sitting at a blood letting table in a Chinese hospital and the guy taking samples is not wearing gloves, he’s grabbing at my arm and I am sitting amidst a floor full of potentially hazardous waste.

I jerked my hand back from the guy and told him it was ok, I could prick my own finger and he could test the blood. He did so, then did not cleanse the wound nor his hands and I walked off, thankful to be alive.

As for the qtips, some may worry about things like AIDS, but that virus does not live long outside the body. The more pressing concern would be things like hepatitis and the like. But this is China where lives are a dime a dozen, so who really worries about things like hospital hygeine?

China, thousands of years old and still not civilized.

5 Responses to “Bloody Qtips and Chinese Hospitcal Hygeine”

  1. Daniel Bos said

    What hospitals are you going to…? I’ve never seen anything like that!

    • Brewskie said

      I think it may depend on the place you go to; I’ve heard of similar stuff happening in other places, too. When a nation is developing, the greater sums of its parts are not going to develop equally, and laggards are expected. This is expected with a communist legacy: for example, Hedrick Smith wrote of his surprise how often USSR doctors, despite the nation’s esteemed education standards and tradition, didn’t even know how to use a stethoscope; Chinese doctors are known for ripping out stitches when they learn their patient can’t pay (this happens in other developing countries, too).

      The quality of America’s health care is hardly uniform, and I jokingly call small town hospitals’ care “quasi-communist.” I heard of a story of a woman one time who nearly died of a heart attack because the doc at her small town hospital kept misdiagnosing her with pneumonia; thankfully, she was talked into visiting a facility in a medium-size city. I had a high school friend who got laid out for a few weeks after receiving simple ankle surgery at his piddly sticks hospital; had he merely drove an extra 30 miles, he would have gotten far better surgery, and would have recovered a much sooner.

      What’s really scary is the looming staff shortage. Aside from nurses, we’re expected to have a doctor shortage of over 130,000 by 2025 – this is with an aging population. I have no idea how the hell we’re going to deal with this.

      I always say Medicare/Medicaid funding uncertainties aren’t the real problem (though it’s certainly a concern); the real problem is the looming shortage of health care workers. It proves to you that when the stupid hawks who crow about Medicare/Medicaid’s legacy costs, they aren’t truly concerned about the nation’s health care when they’re tight-lip about the employment shortages, which is a very real problem.

    • In China said

      Chinese hospitals = slaughterhouses
      I am surprised there are no discarded limbs or fetuses at the place.

      • Brewskie said

        Tom, who’s a writer for a blog called Seeing Red in China, works in a hospital; he shares interesting stories of his experience, and says angry mobs entering the hospital (over things like patient care) aren’t uncommon.

  2. Brewskie said

    Tom over at Seeing Red in China works in a Chinese hospital; he has some interesting stories to share.

    The not wearing gloves bit… that’s actually interesting. I’m bringing this up not because the guy should have been wearing gloves, but many are surprised to learn that 30 years ago in American health care settings, gloves were used sparingly as well – with the exception of things like surgery. Even in nursing homes, when an elderly resident defecated and had to be cleaned up, it was not surprising if an aide or, even an RN, did not wear gloves to clean, and wipe the resident (they obviously washed their hands afterward).

    Glove mandation started in the late ’80s, arguably as a result of HIV/AIDS. The ironic part is infections have actually increased since then; this is the result of numerous factors, such as the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but also because gloves provide false sense of security: staff don’t wash their hands as frequently, or because they wear gloves, staff are less apt to think of surfaces they’re touching after previously touching contaminated surfaces.

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