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Doctors and Hospitals for Expats in India

Submitted: August 2013

Healthcare providers in India are generally wholly private, except that there are public hospitals. India has a lot of well-trained English-speaking doctors, but the lack of equipment can sometimes be a serious issue.

If you live in the countryside and your condition requires a specialist doctor and/or a lot of medical equipment, you will probably have to move to a large town. As hospital can be a tough environment, you should also call a friend or a family member to come with you to the hospital.

It is largely possible to find hospitals with high healthcare standards in large cities, especially in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. A list of hospitals in India is available here.

If you are not happy with healthcare standards in India, you can still consider postponing treatment until after you leave India. In any event, you must go to an Indian hospital if you are in an emergency situation. See Health emergencies for Expats in India.

 

Public hospitals

There are many public hospitals in India. They are designed to provide free healthcare to the poorest, and their staff can be quite friendly.

However, these hospitals are simply totally overstretched. They critically need of additional equipment and staff, as the Government has persistently slashed their budgets in recent years. Therefore, long waiting times are likely. See National Health Service for Expats in India.

In rural areas, the lack of equipment can be so harsh that patients are being asked to bring their own needles.


Private hospitals

There are also many private hospitals in India, though you should take some time to look about for the right one.

If you can afford it, you are probably willing to pay for a private hospital. This is because private hospitals are likely to be more staffed and more equipped than their public counterparts.

A private hospital may run its own ambulance service. It is important to enquire about this in advance, so you know which number to dial in an emergency situation. See Health Emergencies for Expats in India.


Needles in India

Be aware that many Indian healthcare professionals do reuse needles, and that they do not always sterilise them with the utmost care. This is true of hospitals, doctors as well as dentists. Reusing needles can be economical, but it's not a safe practice.

Do not, under any circumstances, let yourself be stung by a suspect needle. Unclean needles may contaminate you very easily with viruses such as hepatitis or even the HIV. If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to ask your doctor to use a new needle, or to genuinely sterilise an existing one.


Corruption issues

Corruption is an endemic problem in India. India ranks 94th out of 176 in the Corruption Perception Index, as measured by Transparency International. This is worse than China, and the same ranking as Greece.

As a general rule, corruption in the healthcare sector is an expensive burden for patients, and it's bad for healthcare quality.

Corruption can take various forms, but a difference is generally made between petty corruption and grand corruption.

Petty corruption

Petty corruption is the notion of paying small bribes to get things going. Although corruption is a bad thing, many low-income employees can seriously expect you to pay a bribe. For example, this can happen upon admission to hospital, or if you need medications which would otherwise be unavailable.

Grand corruption

Grand corruption occurs when the stakes are much higher. This is the form of corruption that you should be most afraid of when you go to a hospital in India. Not only is this expensive, but this may have fatal consequences.

Common corruption practices include, but are not limited to:

  • hospitals paying bribes to taxi drivers in emergency situations see Health Emergencies for Expats in India
  • doctors overprescribing medicines/medical tests/surgeries
  • false certificates or degrees
  • preference for a specific brand, even when a suitable generic drug is available

Know who you can trust

Feel free to share your experiences with friends of yours, and be open to what they have to say.

Word of mouth can help you determine if a specific doctor or hospital is trustworthy or not. You are always better off knowing in advance who you can trust.

In addition, preparing for the worst before it happens might spare you a lot of trouble in hospitals.

 

Contribute

We value input from our readers. If you spot an error on this page or have any suggestions, please let us know.

 

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