My dad is mistreated in a hospital. Can doctors be racists?

78 posts in this topic

Hello guys,

 

I need some advice on a personal matter that keeps re-occurring each time my dad checks in into a hospital in Berlin. 

First few times, we overlooked the issue, but now can't help but wonder if doctors in Germany can be really racists? 

 

A little bit of background information...

My family is from a Turkish origin, but lived in Bulgaria most of our lives. My dad had a construction business and for many years he was travelling back and forth to Germany due to business as he had partners and stakeholders there. He always praised Germany, the people and the lifestyle, and mentioned many times that Germany is his favorite place among all the places he visited. 

 

His business ventures continued until he retired. Meanwhile, me and my siblings grew up and moved away from home. I, myself live in the UK. As my parents were left all alone and retired, they decided to move to Germany to enjoy their retirement. That was in 2011. 

 

The current situation...

Unfortunately, couple of years after they moved to Berlin, my dad became poorly and went under multiple surgeries. Since 2013 he is constantly in and out of hospitals for checks and different procedures. Just to clarify, my parents don't receive any benefits from the government and pay their own social security taxes, health insurances etc. They also have the relevant paperwork to reside in Germany. 

 

The first few times he became ill, the doctors were overlooking his symptoms as advising him to keep a simple diet etc. When symptoms got worse, we asked the opinion of another doctor, which told us that he is in a bad condition and he has narrowed and blocked canals, alongside kidney stones. He was checked in into a hospital for surgery, and after the surgery none of the doctors visited him for 2 days. Nurses kept saying that they will be right away with him, whilst other doctors were visiting his roommates in the hospital. When the doctors actually visited, they told him that he can go home without further explanation of his condition nor his treatment. 

Meanwhile, he also was diagnosed with diabetes. He had surgery for removing his gallbladder. Multiple other treatments for kidney stones, which shouldn't be re-appearing since his gallbladder was removed. There was times he was starved in hospitals, refused to be given serum, refused to be given sleeping pills even in serious pains. 

 

Anyways, during all of his visits he was always treated as he is not wanted in the hospital or he doesn't deserve to have a proper treatment. Currently he is in the hospital due to doctors negligence. I was with him in January when he was supposed to be admitted to hospital, everything was booked etc. When we went to the reception, the first question lady asked my dad was ''How long you lived in Germany, why can't you speak German right''? We had an appointment with the doctor for 1pm, the doctor turned up at 2.30pm and told us that my dad will have to be re-scheduled to February. Again, no explanation given. 

 

My dad finally checked in into the hospital last week and he had a surgery again for removing stones, changing drainage, unblocking arteries etc. Same day he was told to go home, because apparently he was fine! He refused since he was in serious pains and since the booking was for at least 2 night in hospital for supervision. However, he was kicked out! That same evening, he woke up in a fever shock and when we called the doctors, he said my dad is no longer his responsibility and we need to go to the emergency. 

Funny enough, the ambulance took us to the same hospital with severe infection. Now he is treated with antibiotics, and going under further tests. He wants to speak to the actual doctors/surgeons to inquire for his conditions, complications etc. But no doctors will speak to him. 

When I went to visit him, I kindly asked the nurse to show me the restrooms, her response to me was 'You live in Germany, why don't you speak German'. Yet, I don't live in Germany and was only visiting. 

 

There are many other examples I can give from my dad's stays in hospitals, however they are all unpleasant. I'm not saying everyone is like this. There are also very nice people there! However, especially in the medical sector where you trust people with your lives, it is scary to think that you are mistreated because you don't look German, you don't speak the language perfectly, maybe because of the media influence on people due to immigrants. 

 

Please correct me if I am wrong, but in my opinions being a doctor is noble. And you should become a doctor to save people's lives, regardless of the political issues.

 

Sorry for the long post. Will appreciate your advice! 

 

Regards,

Didi 

 

 

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2 hours ago, didimurad said:

Please correct me if I am wrong, but in my opinions being a doctor is noble. And you should become a doctor to save people's lives, regardless of the political issues.

 

Hah!

No, in Germany you can only become a doctor if you had perfect grades in school and most people become doctors for the money they can make.

Medical doctors in hospitals are always unpleasant, to everybody, even to natives like me.

 

The only difference is:

 

2 hours ago, didimurad said:

As my parents were left all alone and retired, they decided to move to Germany to enjoy their retirement. That was in 2011. 

 

The current situation...

Unfortunately, couple of years after they moved to Berlin

 

Does one of your siblings live in Berlin?

If not, they should move to a city one of their children lives in, to have help and a ready-made translator at hand.

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I've been digesting your post and your parent's situation. What has happened is terrible compounded by the fact that they can't communicate well and ask all the right questions or understand the answers well.

 

Your parents need someone there who can advocate for them in these kinds of situations and they aren't getting any younger. It may be possible to hire someone but I'm not sure. Otherwise, as said, they need to move closer to family.

 

I never disagree with Panda but, in this case, I must. I have found good doctors and have been treated quite well in hospitals during my many stays. All of that with public insurance. Perhaps they just humor the American so she won't sue them.B)

 

Best of wishes for coming up with some alternatives for your parents so that the get better care. Aging parents ain't for sissies and can be frightening at times. Especially when we are far away and feel helpless.

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1 hour ago, didimurad said:

He was checked in into a hospital for surgery, and after the surgery none of the doctors visited him for 2 days. Nurses kept saying that they will be right away with him, whilst other doctors were visiting his roommates in the hospital. When the doctors actually visited, they told him that he can go home without further explanation of his condition nor his treatment. 

Sorry, but that sounds like bullshit. Patient visit is part of the daily routine, usually early morning.

 

I've been several times to different German hospitals and there are unpleasant doctors, but in general I cannot complain much.

 

What I've seen are some middle east patients that think they are in a Hotel, or they complain about everything, and make other patient's and nurses life miserable. Then they get disdain, not because they are foreign, but because they don't know how to behave.

 

In one case, me and a German guy had to complain for 2 days to get rid of a Pakistan guy from our bedroom. We even wanted to pay him a private room, if that meant getting rid of him!

The complain list was huge, but insulting the doctors in the daily visit was for sure not a recommended thing.

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1 hour ago, didimurad said:

you don't speak the language perfectly

This. You were told, what the problem is: "You are in Germany and do not speak German properly". This is Prussian-Eastern German language chauvinism. This shit will be thrown into you regardless of you ethnicity.

 

Solution: either move further north west (Hamburg, Lübeck) or to the south.

 

20 minutes ago, PandaMunich said:

I have a very little experience of two clinics in Upper Bavaria, but people working in the hospital were the nicest people on planet Earth.

Unfallchirurgie, Klinikum Garmisch: sisters and brothers love their job despite crappy pay and sky high rents (a brother told something 1000 euro cold was the cheapest he could find). Doctors also very nice.

 

The only difference in service between private and public is that they start OPs in the morning for private patients, and after 12 pm for public. I didn't care.

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4 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

The only difference in service between private and public is that they start OPs in the morning for private patients, and after 12 pm for public.

 

I've had both morning and afternoon OP's/procedures. I prefer afternoon so I don't have to go so early.

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I actually get the next level thrown at me, as I speak German fluently:

"Whhaaaat? You're an Ami?? You speak German so well, why the hell aren't you German already??"

[insert explanation I'll lose my US passport, met with disbelief and denial based on bad German TV. This even happened to me at the Munich airport, coming from the policeman checking my passport. Sigh.]

 

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 My experience has always been good, very professional, but no overt  sentimentality!.  ( Which is good- I just want efficient service)

The OP's parents  seem to have  lack of language and mis-communication as their main barrier. It is always sad to hear of patient complaints and feeling they had poor care. I hope he is recovering now.

I do wonder why they retired to Germany, not speaking German, and no family nearby? However, a couple of points- Doctor's rounds are very often done early in the morning, before surgery starts. I have had patients complain they have not seen the doctor, but I was present when the team came round!

Yes, medical /nursing staff generally do  have a great sense of care and compassion to their patients, but, we all hope to be paid well as a profession, not a "Calling!".

 

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Sadly, it is my life experience that elderly people in pain and not grasping the language have the propensity to misinterpret things, usually in direction of absolute negativity.

 

It is also a fact that even the best doctors cannot heal diabetes, they cannot turn the clock back, but some elderly people are absolutely stubborn and expect that the doctors are the ones who have to take care of that condition. No, the patient has to take care of that condition (Being guided by the doctors, of course,  but that's a Mission Impossible when the patient doesn't share a common language with the doctors). 

 

Let me also point out that having pain from kidney stones is pretty close to being tortured by the Spanish inquisition, people suffering from that behave like mad arses, and the German hospital staff has ways to "shield" themselves from that pretty good.

 

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I doubt racism is a factor in this case. Doctors in hospitals tend to be very busy and most don't have the time and patience to be nice. In my experience, the language barrier can make things worse, as doctors will resent being slowed down because of communication problems. I had to suffer through something like that during a short hospital stay two years ago. I couldn't understand the doctors most of the time because I am deaf and they just talk too fast. They didn't give a shit. Even when they did their round at the crack of dawn and they saw me fumbling to getting my hearing aid on while I scrutinized their poker faces in the hopeless attempt to get some meaning out of them, they'd just babble on about whatever they were going to do, refuse to repeat the message, and storm out of the room when they were finished. Luckily, the nice chap I shared the double bedroom with, would give me a summary after they were gone (if he happened to be there).

 

I really can't blame them. They have their rounds to do and they can't afford to be slowed down.

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1 hour ago, PandaMunich said:

 

Hah!

No, in Germany you can only become a doctor if you had perfect grades in school and most people become doctors for the money they can make.

Medical doctors in hospitals are always unpleasant, to everybody, even to natives like me.

 

Does one of your siblings live in Berlin?

If not, they should move to a city one of their children lives in, to have help and a ready-made translator at hand.

 

Thank you PandaMunich. Makes me feel a bit better than we are treated no different than others. 

 

Me and my siblings try to visit as often as possible. But none of us speak German, so we won't be of much help. At this age, my parents are quite stubborn and want to stay where they are. 

 

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1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

@fraufruit Thank you! Glad to hear that all of your experiences were pleasant and wish you best in future. To be fair, my dad's German is not that bad! However, given the age and how hard German is...it's not perfect either. Seriously considering to hire someone to accompany them to hospital visits

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@MikeMelga Glad to hear that you didn't have to deal with unpleasant experiences. With all due respect, we are not Middle Eastern, although there is nothing wrong with that. All of my family is well educated and we know how to behave in public. Although, when you are in pain you might not be in the best mood.

 

My dad has not complained to anyone, insulted, nor even been moody on purpose. 

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My brother in law had an advocate provided by the State who kept up with all of his medical needs like appointments, talking to doctors, etc. and reporting back to us. She even managed his money and bills. While I doubt your parents would qualify for such a person, their must be some kind of advocates for hire out there or even volunteers.

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@RedMidge My dad speaks German, both spoken and written. However, as I mentioned earlier, he is not perfect as due to age, being bilingual and to be fair, German is very hard! Both of my parents speak more than enough to travel, sort out documents, shop, even communicate. 

They didn't retire in Germany, they went to Germany after retirement to enjoy what my dad believed 'a beautiful country full of great people, food and experiences'. Most of it which are true! Many British people go to live in Spain after retirement. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

An interpreter costs more than rent in a place more civilized than Berlin.

Good motivational factor for a language course.

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9 minutes ago, Alex L said:

Take an interpreter, or learn the language.  Your cultural studies have already begun.

 

I think Didi lives in the UK. And her siblings are also not based here and do not speak German.  So telling them all to take German lessons seems a bit perverse.  Her father does speak German but he is ill.   Geddit?

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