Is it me or do German doctors not care?

50 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi TT's, perhaps there's another thread that's already addressed something similar? Please refer me if so.

I'm basically a selbstzahler (as my private health insurance has a super-high deductible) and don't have any chronic (known) conditions -- so I don't go to the doctor that often at all, but still, after seven years in Berlin and a few different GPs and gynecologists, I have not had a satisfactory experience.

Fellow foreigners, especially US-Americans used to really rigorous, private, care, does the following sound familiar? :::

First of all, secretaries and the doctors themselves are inevitably flustered by my privately-insured status, so often spend a good percentage of the sprechstunden trying to figure out with me how they're going to bill me.

Secondly, I can't tell you how many times I've been given a shot of echinacea, told that whatever's wrong with me is "probably stress-related," (which I'm willing to accept but would like some further guidance...) and sent to have some bloodwork done on the way out. I'm instructed to call later, just for the secretary to tell me, "alles in Ordnung"... without me knowing what they even tested my blood for. And/or I am referred to a fachartzt without any notes or anything... ie they give me the card of an eye doctor or whatever and say I should get in touch myself.

I know I should just shake the doc down for some harder answers, but then I think maybe it's just cultural differences? Maybe my problems are "geistig" and I shouldn't medicalize everything and be so hung up on hard, scientific answers? Instead of using the energy and money to try doctor after doctor, I usually convince myself to just learn to live with whatever symptom is at hand / try and deal with it philosophically (like trying to reduce stress) and figure I probably don't want to know what's causing my problems anyway. But that's kind of twisted, right?

Most of the time doctors are extremely nice and polite (can't often say so much for secretaries, naja), but I can't get over the feeling that they just don't give a shit. There's also the nagging feeling that money might have something to do with it. If they can't do unlimited tests with a Krankenkasse paying for it they just don't want to deal with whatever might potentially be wrong with me...?

Dunno. It's just after aNOTHer experience like the abovementioned I wanted to check if I wasn't alone in feeling like this.

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Posted

In my experience, private patients get better treatment, seen to faster etc...

Although I can't say I've been treated badly as a "Kassenpatient" either (apart from waiting periods).

I have had some terrible doctor and hospital experiences here, but also some quite good experiences. I think it's just and individual doctor/hospital thing.

Maybe you're just unlucky

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Posted

Thanks for replying. Well, it's not so much a matter of being "treated badly"; bedside manner isn't the issue here. It's just that for once it would be great if a doctor said to me "we're going to get to the bottom of this," instead of just kind of shrugging me off. That's all.

Know any GPs in Berlin like that you can recommend? Maybe my luck can change.

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Posted

I think a lot of doctors here are so wrapped up in being a doctor that they forget that their patients are human-beings without medical training - so they say "we will get some blood work done", on the assumption that you are aware of everything that they can and will test, and unless you specifically ask what they plan to test, no, they won't tell you!

Some doctors are a little better on the "caring" front - for example, my GP, who does not speak English, even tried to when I had collapsed due to a ruptured disk in my neck, and everything was fuzzy, blurred and totally confusing - I could hear him talking to me but simply couldn´t get a sentence together at all in German to answer him! But he cared enough to put making a fool of himself to one side for a little while, and I really appreciated that!

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Posted

You're definitely not alone – although you can find a truly caring/no BS doctor here – ask your friends who they can recommend. I once went to the doctor and she treated me WHILE she was on the phone giving advice to another patient on what shots to get when they travel to India.

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Posted

sow rapped

DJ Pork Chop in da house!

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Posted

...after seven years in Berlin and a few different GPs and gynecologists, I have not had a satisfactory experience.

There's a fairly long thread on recommendations for gynaecologists in Berlin already, maybe you could find someone there to suit for that at least.

Gynecologists and obstetricians in Berlin - Personal recommendations, English-speaking etc.

I'm sure there's another thread too about the differences in culture and so on with regard to Frauenarzt visits but I can't find it at the moment.

First of all, secretaries and the doctors themselves are inevitably flustered by my privately-insured status, so often spend a good percentage of the sprechstunden trying to figure out with me how they're going to bill me.

Can't help here unfortunately but I don't think I've ever met any kind of doctor in any country who didn't know exactly what to do to get money out of me.

I know I should just shake the doc down for some harder answers

Yes, you should. If you're not happy with the treatment you are receiving you have to say something. They might love herbal medicine, they might even love homeopathic medicine, but they're not mind readers.

There are lots of threads on the topic I think. Just do a search on homeopathy or herbal medicine and lots of them come up. Here's a couple of them for starters: What's with the alternative medicine? - Do they believe all we need is the Placebo Effect?

Info and opinions on homeopathy in Germany - Legitimate medicine, or pure quackery?

And/or I am referred to a fachartzt without any notes or anything... ie they give me the card of an eye doctor or whatever and say I should get in touch myself.

You should normally get an Überweisung. That way the Facharzt will then also send a copy of whatever results you get to your referring GP. But yes, normally I have had to contact the specialist myself. I've normally been able to at least get the name of someone from my GP. When my orthopaedic doctor referred me for an MRI and I asked them where to go they told me to look in the phone book.

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Posted

DJ Pork Chop in da house!

Thanks Keydeck, that'll be "Dr DJ Pork Chop" actually, if you don't mind?!

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Posted

I'm the opposite. My biggest criterion for a doctor is not whether they'll launch complicated investigations but whether they trust I might know something and, not to put too fine a point on it, do as they're told.

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Posted

It's just that for once it would be great if a doctor said to me "we're going to get to the bottom of this," instead of just kind of shrugging me off.

The specialist treats the symptoms only. No one is tasked with taking a holistic approach to the patient.

I've seen a lot of this. IMO Germany does a great job of taking care of the young (next generation of engineers). When you get older though, the system seems very reluctant to spend money on you. I don't know how many times I've just been shrugged at with the explanation that I'm pushing 50 and sometimes things just hurt. They just can't be bothered to take a closer look. My impression in the States is that they'll look really hard, and then give you a range of potential treatments, some of which may cost you some money. But at least you get the diagnosis and some options.

Obviously if you're uninsured in the States you're farked. But that's another thread.

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Posted

I'm over 50 and my doctor takes good care of me and doesn't just give me the brush off. He sends me to specialists if it's really necessary but otherwise he treats me himself.

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Posted

I wound up with great doctors after seeing a couple that I didn't like.

We can also treat doctors how to treat us. I always have a list and don't leave until it is covered to my satisfaction. A few times, doctors have stood up to shake my hand good bye and I didn't budge. "We're not done yet." Now they know me.

I don't think the insurance matters. I've had both.

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Posted

OK, I see there are already threads about this, so I'll quick respond and then investigate what people have already said. Thanks in any case for responding all of you that did.

@Boots re the holistic approach... totally, that's what I'm talking about here.

I came into the GP with a series of little weird things that I finally decided to not ignore anymore (a lumpy, pressure feeling in my neck and throat, pain/pressure in eye and ears, slight vision loss in one eye and --probably separately -- consistent breast pain) and I'm told I should PROBABLY see a dentist for my jaw, a gynecologist for my breasts and an eyedoctor for my eye. Bye! Very likely it's all unrelated, but isn't she at least curious to see then what these specialists have to say about things? I sort of thought by going to one of these more homeopathic/alternative-medicine/psychosomatic-illness type allgemein doctors that they might help me get a sense of the big picture, 'cause I could've figured out to go to all those specialists myself.

@Jeanie, thanks for the detailed response. Actually, some years ago I did go with someone who was rapturously recommended on that gynecologist thread, Dr. Geisler, and I haven't gone back to the thread to see if anyone else had something to say about it, but I would classify him in the not giving a shit boat. I found him overworked, exhausted, with a dismissive manner. When I mentioned that I had noticed pain in my uteral area he actually loudly sighed, waved his hand toward the examination area, and grumbled, "Now we have to go back there". Maybe too many ladies followed up on that recommendation and that's why he was so overworked...

BTW there's another issue altogether: The impression that gynecologists here don't seem to give you the same attention if you're not pregnant/with Babylust. Again, though, maybe that's just my "unlucky" experience. Though @DanHessen, that's sort of along the same lines of what you're saying... once you get older and/or you're not the reproductive type, they're just like, whatever...

@Nashville, dunno why there seems to be a problem with them figuring out the private billing. I always do eventually get the bill, pay it myself, and then in theory submit it to my insurer which -- also in theory -- should be my problem. Maybe it's that they know how the Kassen work and are guaranteed to be paid by them, but as a selbstzahler I'm a wildcard...?

@Allershausen, nice. Glad it's working out for someone.

@Fraufruit, I'll give it a shot next time.

But yeah, responding to @most of the rest of you, you're right, I just need to search and find the right doctor and then really press him or her until I'm satisfied with my care and stop whinging. Thanks again. I wish you all good health. :rolleyes:

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Posted

If you're not happy with the treatment you are receiving you have to say something. They might love herbal medicine, they might even love homeopathic medicine, but they're not mind readers.

Indeed.

The doctors I see all know that I will want copies of any scans and all blood work (hey, I work in stats...) and all my records are marked so that homeopathic et al items are not offered.

But only because we've cleared that one up beforehand.

Personal recommendations can help, but it is a little trial and error (and a LOT of talking) before you find who you can work best with.

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Posted

pain/pressure in eye and ears, slight vision loss in one eye

Please do go and see a specific eye specialist about the eye, my mother was having vision issues, saw an optician and a GP, her symptoms were missed and she is now blind in that eye.

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Posted

Wow, @Katrina, thanks. Now I'm terrified -- but glad you mentioned this! Indeed, I have an appointment with an ophthalmologist tomorrow (on my GP's vague recommendation).

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Posted

... And I'm so sorry to hear about your mother.

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Posted

Thanks, I didn't want to scare you totally, just to nudge you into an appointment. Glad you are seeing someone!

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Posted

@dessa, thanks, that makes good sense. As you can see, I'm sensitive to the fact that it might just be a case of my swollen American expectations (pun intended)

Just out of curiosity, anything you can share about that "sound psychological advice" that cured your phantom lymphoma/brain tumor/hyperthyroidism? Sounds similar to the kick I'm on now...

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Posted

Sure. Basically, he told me that I was at odds with myself for staying in an unsatisfactory situation which was beginning to negatively affect my health (a 24-hour stint with a machine hanging off my arm confirmed borderline high blood pressure, which was causing other mild problems), and recommended I take some steps to make me feel less worried and anxious, and more proactive and positively engaged. I realize that's pretty vague, but you could apply it across the board to a number of things.

Did what he said, got better quickly thereafter. Blood pressure now well within healthy range.

He also told me to quit smoking, but what does he know

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Posted

So far I haven't heard that Germans drop dead of preventable/curable diseases at a higher rate than Americans, so I'm reluctant to believe that the doctors are actually being negligent.

I hear what you're saying... but I think it's not always a matter of people dropping dead. In my recent experience American doctors seem better at offering what might be called quality of life options in terms of treatments or medicines. Things that the Krankenkasse doesn't necessarily see as high priority treatments so they don't tend to offer them. Obviously you could argue that the Medical/Pharma Industrial Complex is simply more efficient at marketing their latest wonder-drug or whizz-bang medical device in the States vs more budget conscious Germany.

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