Had a bad experience at gynecologist during routine pregnancy check-ups

75 posts in this topic

Hi there,

 

I'm relatively new here in Germany, and is currently three months pregnant with my first child. I've seen a frauenarzt (OB/GYN) in Giessen to confirm the pregnancy in week 5, and subsequently saw the doctor again twice, once for emergency and another at a planned normal appointment. 

 

After having visited the clinic thrice, I find every visit stressful and the last appointment ended quite a catastrophe (my husband and I believe so!). The reason why I feel stressful is due to various reasons and experiences at the clinic, and this includes lack of clarity on routine tests and poor treatment by the Arzthelferin (Doctor's assistant). Additionally I feel that I'm treated more like a robot than a human.. if you know what I mean.

 

To give a bit more context, I did not particularly like the following experiences I faced:

(i) The doctor ordered the Arzthelferin to take my blood in my first visit, without even asking if I was alright to do a blood test (while this can be alright for some ladies, I happen to fall into this group that fear needles!) As it was not bad enough, the Arzthelferin did not locate my blood vessel well the first time, and force me to change to another hand immediately even though I said no. She ended up looking frustrated and said I should do the test because I'm pregnant. 

(ii) Due to bleeding, I visited the clinic on urgent basis the second time and had to do a v. ultrasound. I asked the doctor if she could do it from the stomach (seeing that she has equipments for both types of ultrasound) but she did not accede because she mentioned that the bb was too small during first trimester. So I gave in, but requested that she does it more gently because I experienced cramps after the v. ultrasound in the first visit (she was quite rough!!). After that visit, I had bleeding again, and had to visit another doctor (at another clinic) because the original doctor was away on holiday. This other doctor did the ultrasound from the stomach and everything went well! So I'm quite puzzled again why the original doctor insisted on v. ultrasound.

(iii) In my third visit, I was asked "Have you taken your urine?" as soon as I reached the clinic. This was something they have not requested in my first two visits, and nothing was mentioned about what they would do (or require from me) on routine basis. Puzzled, I asked the Arzthelferin why do they needed my urine? They replied loudly, because you are pregnant and we need to test it. I was expecting more details, so I continued to ask, test for what? Because the Arzthelferin doesn't speak English very well, she just replied, for virus. 

(iv) Already sick of the many sudden 'surprises' that every visit is giving, my husband and I asked a myriad of questions (including what to expect in every appointment, what are additional test(s) not covered by insurance, etc etc.) This was when we knew that test for urine, blood pressure, weight and finger prick was a norm at every appointment. Being scared of needles, I requested to omit the finger prick from the day's test and the doctor agreed. However, she did not convey to the Arzthelferin. So as soon as I exited the doctor's office, the Arzthelferin called me by saying 'Kommt!', without explaining what/ why. She proceeded saying in german, stand on machine..give me your hand..and quietly preparing the things for finger prick. As soon as I saw that, I explain to her that the doctor mentioned that I need not do the prick test for today. But she did not believe, went into a rage, left the room suddenly and went out to complain to her colleague (another Arzthelferin). 

My husband and I then went out of the room (clueless and also upset!) and went to the other Arzthelferin, who then said 'You come to the clinic, and you don't want this, don't want that, it's better that you go to the Hebamme (midwife)!' Feeling shock, I then uttered 'I'm sorry, what do you mean by saying that, do you mean you do not want me as your patient anymore?' Then she continued, every time you come, you must do urine test, blood pressure, weight and test your iron huh! This is normal - every person who come in for schwangerschaft must do! I retorted that I'm not a robot. What is normal to them everyday is not normal to me. Because they did not tell me all the routine tests before hand, and that I have fear for needles, I had already asked the doctor to give me time to mentally prepare myself to do the finger prick in the next visit, and she agreed. Why must your colleague get angry and leave me in the room when I don't do the finger prick? I suggested to her that her colleague's behaviour is very rude! Losing my emotions, my husband tried to reason with the Arzthelferin, but they just said, now you know, next time you must be prepared!

This whole episode at the Arzthelferin desk happened in front of incoming patients in the clinic, and I do felt quite humiliated..

(v) Thoroughly upset at the third visit, I went home with my Mutterpass and found out that the blood test result was out and pasted in the Mutterpass. Seeing this, I wondered why the doctor has not shared that the result nor explained the results to us in the third visit - I personally feel that this is utterly basic, at the same time, not sure if this could be the norm in Germany.

 

At this point, I'm feeling quite stressed over the visits and am wondering if all my experiences are considered normal in Germany. If you have the same/ different experiences, I hope to be able to hear yours, so that I can ascertain if there is a need to change a doctor. 

 

Additionally, there aren't many english-speaking Frauenarzt and clinics in Giessen, and am willing to consider Frankfurt, since I will be there twice a week. If you have recommendation for good clinics who has english-speaking doctor and doctor's assistants, would you be able to share them with me? 

 

Thank you so much! 

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Appreciate if someone can share your experiences during your visit to OB/GYN in Germany, and whether my experiences here are normal/ out of the norm. 

 

Let me know if you have any recommendation for good OB/GYN in Frankfurt too! Thank you!

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8 hours ago, New in DE said:

any recommendation for good OB/GYN in Frankfurt too!

 

Hi there, New in DE

 

In spite of having spent my first 3 years in Giessen I couldn't give you any recommendation for OB/GYNs coz I don't match their regular patient profiles ;)

 

However out of 74 posts in this thread there are 30 to 40 which do recommend good OB/GYN doctors in Frankfurt.

^^^Just click on the title to land there. Nobody's posted there for the last 18 months but I'm fairly sure several of the recommendations would still be valid in 2017.

 

Actually, knowing how this forum works, I'd say the best thing you could do would be to click on the + button (Multiquote) at the foot of your opening post and then open the Post reply box on that other thread and add your original post here as a quote there. By doing that you'll bump that thread on to 3 more-viewed landing pages which will quite probably attract other more qualified (female) TTers who are better placed to compare experiences with you.

 

Not all, but many, Arzthelferinnen in Germany do tend to seem bossy, grumpy, impatient and prone to bouts of eye-rolling. Its by no means universal though as I've come across a few that were a real pleasure to deal with even when some acute pain meant I was being grumpy and impatient myself.

 

Over the last 33 years I have been to a lot of clinics and doctors surgeries here and often seen reception staff treating locals to a display of their abrasive manner too so I'm not so sure they'd be a whole lot different if you spoke perfect German. I think those kind of witches assume that 'because a German would know' <- (meaning if they didn't they'd have asked their mum first) they must be facing a case of sheer wilfull ignorance so they sharpen their elbows accordingly.

 

Don't let them grind you down. You do only have to put up with them for a few minutes at a time and once you've become adjusted to your condition and it acquires a certain degree of routine you won't feel anywhere near as anxious or stressed out.

 

I'm going to suggest you also check out English-speaking doctors in Frankfurt because, sooner or later, you're going to need to know about other specialists too.

 

Good luck and do try to relax and enjoy your pregnancy. :)

If you don't do that it'll be over before you know it. And just consider this for an idea - if you don't learn to make it easy on yourself this time around you might regret having to re-learn how to get through the whole shebang in the future.

 

2B

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Doctors in Germany are not known for their bedside manners. You went in cause you were pregnant and they go through their check-lists like a robot, expecting you to just nod yes or no like a robot. Here, you need to speak up, ask questions:  What tests do I need, what is the procedure, etc. Did they know you were scared of needles? Expect to get your blood drawn a lot during pregnancy! Go in with questions prepared, write them down, smile and take your time. The assistants are grumpy, period. 

 

My advice, find a new doc. Ask your husbands friends wives. Having an OB/GYN in Frankfurt may be helpful, but how far do you have to travel just to see him/her. My gyno is 15 km away. That's ok for me. BUT, your gyno is not necessarily an OB as well. They might not work with a hospital to deliver babies.

 

At one point during my pregnancy, my doc informed me, quite emotionless, I would have to go to the hospital for 4 days. I broke down in tears. She actually put her hand on my shoulder - the first time ever and I had been her patient for nearly 10 years! 

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The v. ultrasound is quite normal in early pregnancy.

http://www.advancedwomensimaging.com.au/first-trimester-dating-ultrasound 

The blood pressure, weight at every appointment too.

As the previous poster stated the helpers at the doctors are all about getting you in and out as quickly as possible. There is no bedside manner there or at least at any doctor I've ever been to here.  Find a new doctor where you feel more comfortable, but I've never known one to be anything but efficient and harried. 

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For me it sounds like a little princess from Asia thinks she deserves a special treatment.

A doctor's practice is also a little enterprise. He/she needs a certain number of patients per day to pay the expenses.

Everything has to run smooth and efficiently. If you need a special treatment, you should privately pay for it.

If you offer the doctor 1000€ per visit, I think everybody will have more time for you.

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1. Change the doctor. You do not have to visit the doctor whom you are uncomfortable to be with. However, note that Germans are more concentrated on getting the shit done. The doctor who will be smiling and pleasant will not necessarily be the best one.

2. Visit jameda.de to see patient's reviews. This can give you inside about which doctor to choose. This is the medical Google in Germany.

3. Yes, taking all the tests are pretty normal in Germany, even though technically a blood test is a bodily harm (Körperverletzung) and should be authorized by you. This is however not practiced: if you visit a doctor your consent is assumed. You can refuse to do the tests but then the doctor will refuse to work with you. How are they supposed to determine your health without blood and urine tests?

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Hi @New in DE,

 

Together with my wife we're currently at the very end of our pregnancy, so we've already had some experience with OB/GYN's in Frankfurt.

 

Unfortunately we've had similar experiences to yours, with the exception of an OB/GYN in the hostpital we chose to give birth in (we've visited her twice for a check-up, she turned out to be really friendly and answered all our questions, not in a hurry and she was very gentle).

 

As for our regular visits, just like you said "it was obvious" (of course for the doctor/Artzhelferin, not for us) that blood will be taken, urine samples, weighing etc. etc. To the extent that once when we asked the Artzhelferin why is the blood taken again this time, we heard it's needed to test for Toxmoplasmosis (and we've had 5 tests already!), and when we pointed out that it was too often, the reaction was "yes, in fact you're right, but still we need the iron test...". We also had an impression of misunderstandings between the OB/GYN and her Artzhelferin.

 

@AnswerToLife42 - from our experience private doctors are not at all better, they too don't seem to explain why they do some tests/examinations, and sometimes do not comment at all when the results come in. What is more, we had a situation when we got an invoice with a wrong diagnose of suspision of kidney failure, which turned out to be a mistake (you can imagine how much stress this caused to my wife, seeing such a diagnose on the invoice, without the doctor saying anything, we were quite puzzled and couldn't reach her during the weekend).

 

In general (and this is our experience not only with doctors here in Germany) we noticed that "client service" can be sometimes of really poor quality, as if "you should be happy you get any attention at all" (though there are some exceptions where we were really positively surprised).

 

I think if you do a little research here and there you will be able to find someone more friendly (although I don't know how that might look in Giessen). If you do finally find someone that you would recommend, please share as it may be helpful for others in the future.

 

All the best, we hope you do find an appropriate doctor for your family! :)

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I think it's a bit much to reference the OPs ethnicity on this one (what on earth does that have to do with it?) but I too am perturbed by the tender sensibilities expressed in the original post.  I find it a bit ironic that we're talking about a pregnancy here, which will culminate in a situation where the OP will at least theoretically be relying on her doctor and other personnel to simply act and do their jobs during the delivery, without a lot of "permission requesting".  Not to mention it's going to be a situation where the OP is likely to experience a lot of physical discomfort..the idea that a prick test is out of bounds just baffles me.  I don't get it, but I can imagine most health care practitioners would not have a lot of patience with this.

 

I haven't had any trouble with my Frauenarzt or his assistants, but indeed, they don't always explain how things are supposed to work and I've been caught out there a couple of times (for example, with blood tests they wanted to do, didn't tell me about, and I was required to not eat before hand - that kind of thing).  But if I just ask, they tell me.  I don't get the impression they're trying to be jerks about it, I just think that from their perspective it's "common knowledge" how things go, even though it's not the case for everyone (especially for non-Germans). 

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I am not a women but we have two kids and I've been there with the wife in almost every appointment.   I think you do not have a problem with your doctor, I think you have a problem with how things work in general in Germany.    You are kind of supposed to know how things work and it is assumed you know many things.  When you come from another country where we were spoonfed in almost everything you will have some culture shock.   I've myself been here in this country for almost 17 years and while I am pretty accustomed, I still suffer with that once in a while.

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I think would be a good idea to work on your needle fear, it will make the doctor visits much less stressful.  You can look up some distraction strategies on the internet (I am assuming you are not so bad that you vomit and faint:  if you do, you must ask the doctor for help).  

 

I used  to hate needles and I would always say this up front.  I did stuff like not looking, pinching my leg, and gabbling away in a fairly mindless manner.  Your husband can help with this.   I have got over the fear now:  you kind of have to, if you want to appear sane in front of your children and not alarm them when they have to have injections, go the the dentist, etc.

 

For the birth, I found the German midwives and doctors, and the hospital to be a more pleasant experience than previous 2 births in the UK.  But as others have said people can be very direct if not outright rude.  But don't let this get you down.  Good luck with your pregnancy.

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In addition to other suggestions already offered, I wonder if you might consider taking up the Arzthelferin's suggestion that you go to a midwife (Hebamme) instead of to a physician for your antenatal care. That's an option available to anyone who wants it, and midwives are fully qualified to do antenatal care in the German system (German insurance will pay for it, too).  Midwives don't usually have all that tech your doc is using and they don't usually perform all those invasive tests, etc. (though I'm not sure if you can get away needle-free). Also, midwives (in my experience) have more time or at least take more time to explain, answer questions, and may be more accommodating of your preferences inasmuch as possible.  Good luck!

 

p.s. Edited to say:  Sounds like pretty typical OB visits in Germany; though some practices/staff will be friendlier than others, there's usually little time or space for deviations from the normal standards of care, and not a heck of a lot of information flow (it's more on a need-to-know basis, or - as mentioned by someone else above - you *do* need to know it but they assume you've already informed yourself before you come.)  Get a good German-language book for pregnant women so you can read about the local "what-to-expect-when-you're-expecting" culture.  If you don't read German, it might be worth getting an e-version that can be auto-translated, or working through it with a dictionary and a live human who can help through any tricky bits.  It's good to learn the German vocabulary of pregnancy and childbirth in any case.

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Germans are rude. It is a common theme on this board. I can understand you wanting to change doctors.

 

I must say though that I can understand why a medical professional would be angry at you. It is their expert opinion that these things that the vaginal ultrasound (that is in most cases more accurate than a abdominal ultrasound for fetuses under 10 week gestation) and blood tests / finger prick tests are in the best interest of your child. Without these they feel your baby may suffer. Do you doubt this opinion?  If you sincerely doubt their medical opinion then by all means get a second opinion and fight for what is in the best interest of your child but to sit there and refuse things just because you are a uncomfortable about needles or because you dont want to be treated like a robot is difficult for me swallow. 

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How is this apparently highly sensitive OP ever going to get through pregnancy, childbirth and nursing? It's not for sissies. The best advice I can manage is to man up, lady. No, you will not enjoy the German idea of bedside manner but this will be the least of your concerns in the upcoming months and years. Good luck.

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Hello all,

 

Thank you to all who have taken the time to generously shared your experiences and given many amazing helpful tips to get around this bad experience that I had.

Being here for barely six months, I’m cognizant that there will indeed be culture shocks in a new country, but my husband and I are often glad to meet really good helpful people around (and very few obnoxious ones; but they are really few and far between!) who lend a hand whenever we need. With the case of pregnancy, unfortunately people we know here have either passed this stage for quite some years or are not in our situation yet. Adding to the stress was our culture (and I think german’s too) of not telling others before the first trimester was over. Hence, we were not too picky with the OB/GYN initially, as all we wanted was to get an appointment as early as possible to confirm the pregnancy and then decide what to do thereafter. Our only requirement was that the doctor has to speak English, so that we can communicate. Exactly like what yourkeau mentioned, we googled, found Jameda.de and called a few clinics up. Unlike Frankfurt, Giessen is a smaller town and not many staff in clinics speak English.

 

We made do with one within walking distance, with the doctor and one assistant able to speak little English. With time, however, we find ourselves often caught in ‘surprises’, so we did a lot more research online, talk to my mum and friends; all these within periods of bowing over toilet bowls (if you know what I mean), periods of nausea and lethargy. Although we did, that helped little because we realized practices are just different in different countries. One, for example, is the usage of v. ultrasound. Here, I found out (after asking the doctor) only at the third appointment that v. ultrasound is used at every single appointment, from first to the third trimester. Back home, abdomen 3D and 4D ultrasound are more common, and v. ultrasound is often used only once, if not twice, during the whole pregnancy. Blood test, on the other hand, if needed, is often told in the appointment prior to the next where your blood is taken. And doctors often tell patients at the beginning of the pregnancy which weeks (of the pregnancy) blood test will be needed.

 

When I relook at my experiences again, I find it could have been better if the clarity of the routine tests is improved, and if the doctor was more thorough, for example, inform her assistants that I was exempted from a particular test for the appointment. But then again, to see doctor’s assistants flying into rage, throwing their test equipment on the table and stomping out of the room, and leaving my husband and I there – I don’t think it is healthy for both my baby and myself to subject ourselves to such stress. Regarding the result of the blood test, I was equally appalled that the doctor did not go through the result and advising me if the pregnancy was all good (or not). What makes me frustrated was seeing my blood group being different from what I had when I was a child (I mean, can blood group change?). So Slavko, I can totally hear you when you mentioned about your wife’s experience of wrong diagnosis.

 

Wanting to know what the result of the test meant, we returned to the clinic a few days after my third visit and we also shared our doubts about the blood group with the assistant, however all we heard was a loud laugh! She said this was impossible to happen because the lab processed the blood test. (Yes, it may sound unlikely, but does it mean totally impossible?)  I was half expecting that she would take the responsibility to check with the lab, but since she didn’t, I asked if she could. All we were told was we had to pay for an extra test to confirm the blood group. Needless to say, my husband and I were totally disappointed. 

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2B_orNot2B, thanks for pointing me in the right direction, in checking out the relevant pages on OB/GYN doctors in Frankfurt as well as seeking more help from qualified female TTers through the Multiquote function :rolleyes:

 

Elfenstar, thanks for your concern about the distance I will have to travel. Since I will be there twice a week already, I was thinking about fixing the appointments on either of the day, so I think it shouldn’t be a problem until I get too big later on..

 

Norcal_sf, thanks for sharing the link. The information is indeed helpful. I hope the next doctor I find will not demand that v. ultrasound be made in the second or third trimester. That will be a pain!

 

Slavko, thanks for generously sharing your experiences. I totally feel you and your wife. All the best for the last leg to delivery; I wish you and your wife a safe delivery to a healthy baby!

I had been trying hard to find a replacement OB/GYN in Giessen, but to no avail. A friend recommended hers to me and made two appointments for me successfully. We promptly went for the first, but were eventually turned away, when they knew I had an existing OB/GYN and wanted a change. Even though we explained our situation, it did not help - the assistant mentioned that her doctor could not get the ‘Pauschale’ for the quarter April – June, since I last saw an existing doctor in April, so her doctor will not see us! This really threw us off the chairs! So, Krieg, to have a valid health insurance but not able to see a doctor really did ‘shocked’ us. If you have any ideas that we can get around this, please share!

 

Snowingagain, I didn’t used to fear needles as much, and my previous blood tests (not many) were done successfully. This time around, I just didn’t expect the doctor to call her assistant to do a blood test at my first visit, without asking/ sharing that with me. Not only so, I was not shared on what the blood test was for. (So, first visit + no info + forced blood test; you probably understand now why I had such a fear!) Eventually, I think my fear for the needles also became heightened after the assistant’s failed attempt at drawing my blood at the first visit, and causing a blue-black on my arm.

But, you are also right too, so will certainly read up on it. I hope it will get better with time!

 

Liebling, yes, actually in our third appointment, on the recommendation of a friend, we asked the doctor for a list of Hebammes who are located in Giessen or around. The term ‘hebamme/ mid-wife’ was rather new to us, so we asked the doctor about how such system works here, and whether we could complement our visits to the doctor with our visits to hebamme. The doctor appeared not very willing but eventually told us to get the list from her assistants. I guess this was the reason why the assistants told us to go to the Hebamme instead (but I think they were missing out on our point). So I sent emails, called a few, and I was surprised to be rejected by a few Hebammes because their schedules are already full – this is because Germans get their Hebammes as soon as they know that they are pregnant!

You are so right – all the Hebammes I called (yes, really all eight that I spoke to) were very empathetic, some with very good spoken English and they seemed closed-knit, recommending other ‘popular’ Hebammes they know even though they are unable to take me in.

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Thanks to those who speak up for me as well - believe you could be mothers yourself or family who have seen through family member(s) going through pregnancy. Some could be easy, but others could be hard. Appreciate that you understood my anxiety, not just because I'm new here, but also a first-time mother-to-be.. totally clueless and learning every day! 

 

I do have a problem after just being turned away at another doctor, and I wonder if such will happen even if I manage to find a doctor in Frankfurt? Or would it be alright to go without a doctor for two months, and get another one starting from July? 

 

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17 minutes ago, New in DE said:

seeing my blood group being different from what I had when I was a child

 

Eh, what? That definitely needs to be looked at. I don't know about what sort of differences you are talking about, but there is a dangerous situation that could arise, albeit at a later date. This happened to my mother. She is A-, but my father is 0+, as both my sister and I are. An Rh- woman having an Rh+ baby needs an injection after giving birth to stop her developing antibodies which could affect subsequent pregnancies. Because everything was done right, my mum had no problems having my sister after having me. (That they did not do this the second time around, and perhaps because of this she lost her third child, that is another story.) New in DE, did you show them some documentation to support what you're saying? Are you perhaps Rh- and need to be careful?   

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Hi LenkaG

 

I just read about this too. There is no issue with the rhesus factor. Both were Rh+, so that's alright - thank god!

 

I'm referring to the difference in terms of blood group (alphabet to be precise). I guess, in the event of emergency, and if a blood transfusion is ever needed, it could mean the blood of the incorrect blood group be transferred. I'm not sure if there are any other possible risks of incorrect blood group on Mutterpass - still trying to find that out.. let me know if you do :) 

 

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Is the blood group identification test expensive? I guess if I were you I would pay myself and if the German lab got it wrong, I would figure out what to do next. It is unacceptable either way.

 

One advantage of being a blood donor, even though I have not been able to give in the past couple of years, is having some subgroups identified as well. I like knowing the details; not that it changes anything :D

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