ER Visit–Johannesburg

The following blog post is by 2L Bradley DeFreitas:

The trip to Botswana and South Africa was a very good one but there was one experience that I wish I did not have to experience.  After we had returned to South Africa from Botswana I had to be taken in to the emergency room in Johannesburg due to a bad spider bite that was getting continually worse.  The process at the hospital was actually a very quick one except I found out that the hospital did not accept my student travel insurance but thankfully the bill was not large enough for that to become an issue.  [Note: the student travel insurance does cover the incident but on a reimbursement basis.] Professor Behan and I were able to take a hotel shuttle to the emergency room and we had the same shuttle give us a ride back as well.

After I was called to the back the nurses first took my blood pressure and my heartbeat and I was then given a bed to sit on while waiting on the doctor.  I came in right at the time that four people from a bad car accident came in so I had to wait a little longer.  However, the wait did not seem too long to me at all.  One of the nurses felt bad that I had been waiting for almost an hour, normal in the states, and even apologized to me which made me realize that the hospitals in South Africa are not used to the same amount of wait times that the U.S. hospitals are.

I was able to meet with the doctor and he diagnosed my bite as a spider bite and then he decided that a saline IV drip would help with the swelling.  There was also an issue with my blood pressure so the doctor ordered some blood work as well.  I have never been a fan of needles and that night just reminded me of my hatred for needles.  The blood draw was not too bad but the IV drip was not a very fun experience.  The IV drip took about an hour to finish and during that time the blood tests came back.  Everything came back normal and the doctor gave me three prescriptions to fill before I left the hospital.

Of course since my insurance did not work I had to pay before I was allowed to leave the hospital.  My total bill came to about 3000 rand, which is equal to about three hundred American dollars, and that is with no insurance coverage.  I was amazed with the price because the same type of care would most likely have been thousands of US dollars if I had gone to an American hospital.  The quality of care and the staff at the hospital was top notch but I paid a fraction of what I was expecting.  The experience of having to go to an emergency room in a foreign country is one that was not as bad as it may sound but I hope that my next trip abroad does not have a hospital trip in the cards for me.

Bradley DeFreitas


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