health

Hospitals: UK vs Japan - Length of stay, language, birth, kids and pain relief

41 Comments
By Dr Nicola Yeboah for BCCJ ACUMEN

A stint in hospital anywhere can cause anxiety, but even more so when it occurs in an unfamiliar country. Non-Japanese patients’ main worry is about the ability (or inability) of medical staff to speak English and, therefore, communicate effectively about something as important as personal health.

The level of English spoken in hospitals in Tokyo varies widely. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many patients who need to undergo non-urgent procedures choose to go home for these.

However, if you do end up in hospital during your time in Tokyo, rest assured that the level of care you will receive is generally the same as in any other developed country.

Differences with the UK

First, the length of hospital stay is generally longer in Japan than in the UK. Even for relatively simple procedures that would commonly be performed as day surgery elsewhere, hospital admission is often required.

Patients are frequently admitted on the day prior to their surgery and discharged the day after, requiring a two-night stay for general procedures.

This length-of-stay difference is particularly noticeable in obstetrics. In the UK, following a normal birth, new mothers are typically discharged the day after delivery, or even on the same day. In Japan, a four- to five-night stay is average. Some mums (especially first-timers) actually find this extra time very helpful.

Midwives are available at all hours to answer any questions, address concerns and give reassurance — all very important when you are suddenly landed with a new job for which you have had no training!

Plus, getting your meals cooked for you and having a few days of (relative) rest is an added bonus before returning home. For those seasoned mums who are keen to go straight home to attend to older children, early discharges are possible.

Second, you can expect to have more tests done than in England. For routine operations, even for young and healthy people, chest X-rays, electrocardiograms (ECGs) and blood tests are standard.

Some hospitals even give an HIV test as part of the normal admitting routine. In Tokyo, scans such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are much more widely available than in the UK and, thus, are more frequently used. This can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Another question I am often asked is about the availability of pain-relieving medications. Many patients describe simply being given paracetamol during their hospital stays for painful conditions that are usually treated with much stronger drugs in the UK.

Overall, hospitals are trying to improve this situation. Even the availability of epidurals (for pain relief during childbirth) is slowly increasing.

Nevertheless, if you have a planned admission, be sure to ask your doctor about available pain relief before entering hospital.

Finally, a few words regarding pediatrics. Parents of course worry about the possibility their children will need a hospital stay while in Tokyo.

Typically, their concerns are about hospital regulations, which may not allow a parent to stay overnight with their child during hospitalisation. If your child is staying in a private room, it is usually fine for one parent to stay overnight, and a (small) fold-up bed is provided for a minimal charge.

Parents are also normally excluded from any potentially unpleasant procedures such as taking blood or putting in intravenous (IV) lines. This can be hard to fight against, and usually isn’t a battle that you will win.

Having said that, my two children have both had in-patient stints in Tokyo and the overall level of care received has been excellent.

On a practical note, if you have private health insurance, you can try to arrange for the hospital to bill the insurance company directly. Many large hospitals in central Tokyo are becoming familiar with foreigners who have overseas insurance and, even compared with a few years ago, are now more willing or able to deal with those companies directly.

© Japan Today

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41 Comments
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Heath Care System is awful here in Japan but the price is reasonable. I had a herniated disc. As it was my first time, I had no idea what was up. So at 2am the ambulance came sirens blaring. They couldn't carry me from the 2nd floor of my house so I had two choices. Walk or they call the fire department to take me out through a window. I walked. 30 minutes later, I'm in the ambulance. They ask which hospital I want to go to. I choose the one where my back problem history was mostly documented. Long story short, sat in the ambulance for two hours searching for a hospital. By the way, this is in Tokyo. Went through a list of about 10+ local hospitals until they informed me of the only one that would accept me, which of course is the worst in the area. This happens often in Japan. There aren't any doctors on stand by in hospitals after 6pm or on weekends and holidays. I even walked into an ER with symptoms of a stroke near my house on a Saturday and was turned away. Another time a broken ankle. ER was open but not accepting emergencies. I was given a list of phone numbers of hospitals that might accept me. Forth one on the list took me in. I've been here for 33 years, and I gotta say that doctors here have no idea what they are doing. It's not about medicine and helping people. It's a business that sells bed space and drugs. This is not a matter of opinion, it's first hand experience. I could go on but I think you got my point. So, to all of you who plan to stay in Japan, do what it did. Exercise, eat healthy foods and stay in shape. I quit smoking. I feel better and haven't seen the inside of a hospital since the last time a friend was sick. You don't want to use the medical system here.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

The medical care I've received in Japan has mostly been very good.

However I do agree with two points raised in the article and the first comment:

I also had a herniated disc and was not given adequate pain killers, even as I was screaming for them!

My nearest hospital's emergency room is closed on weekends! It's right next to Kyoto station.
9 ( +9 / -0 )

@hereforever - Spot on. I also have countless stories like this. The lack of knowledge among so-called doctors here is appalling....

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Pain management in Japan is "interesting" to say the least. Had a kidney stone attack while on vacation in America. Went to the emergency room and eventually was given morphine. Pain went away in the blink of an eye. Oh how that felt good! Anyway, I return to Japan and talk with some colleagues about what happened and they were shocked that I was given "such a strong narcotic" for the kidney stone attack. SMH. And I know morphine is available in Japan. If they don't give you that (or something similar) for an excruciating pain episode, WTH do they give it for???

I do not look forward to ever getting ill in Japan.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Once you're in hospital in Japan, I find the level of care outstanding, though they do tend to keep you hospitalized longer than in other countries. I've been hospitalized twice - once for peritonitis at St Luke's and once for a herniated disk at Saiseikai and I have absolutely no complaints. The nurses were wonderful.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Not sure if an ER is the right place to go for an disc problem. A herniated disc is like a kidney stone, there isn't much a doctor can do, especially about the pain. Generally, for a disc you will need surgery but it is not the kind of thing that shows up easily but maybe on an MRI. There is a simple test for a herniated disc, if the doctor pushes down on your toes and you can lift it up, you probably have a herniated disc that is pinching a nerve and need surgery. Of course, the insurance companies would have more tests. Now, it used to be a 3 weeks stay in the hospital but today it should only be a few days or less. Today they should be using the procedure pioneered in San Francisco in the 1980's where only one or two punctures are needed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have had a few lengthy stays for a variety of illnesses in Japan, 3 required an ambulance. Found the hospitals rather good, 1 stay was at the local Red Cross with a 24hr ER.

Doctors explained to me that many hospitals got little experiences with foreigners and some of the local meds and dosages don't work on us. Few hospitals stock meds that too.

Even years later the staff recall me. As they do my wife.

I am happy with the medical system here, better than in some other countries I stayed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Several years ago I had sudden extremely painful abdominal pains while I was home alone at the beginning of the so-called "Silver Week" holiday period at the end of September. Knowing that most of the emergency wards are closed during that period I nervously contacted the Tokyo Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Ogikubo which is near my home. Their ER was open and I was told to come immediately. They did not have a doctor available who could diagnose me but recognising my severe pain they kept me over-night and gave me painkillers. The next day after a number of tests they determined that my gall bladder had to be removed but because of the holidays the operation could not be done for almost a week. I was kept in hospital, happily on painkillers and an IV drip, as I was not allowed to eat. By the time the operation was done, I was later told by the doctor that the organ was gangrenous so had to be removed by cutting me open rather then the simple hole through the belly button. I don't doubt that the gangrene was a result of the one week wait.

I was kept in hospital for another week after the surgery. Other than the issues of a surgeon not being available for a week, I would have to say that the level of care I received at the Tokyo Seventh Day Adventist Hospital was top notch. Most of the nursing staff spoke English as did the doctor who performed the surgery. I even had a nursing student whose only assignment was to take care of me. I was surprised that the food at the hospital was also very good when I was finally able to eat it. The hospital has a vegetarian policy and a healthy dessert buffet in the cafeteria. I bought their cookbook.

A few days before checkout the doctor asked if I lived alone and if so he was willing to keep me in for a few more days but I opted to recover in my own bed. I wouldn't want to go in hospital again but I must say that this was a surprisingly good experience for me. I even dropped down to a few kilos lower than my target weight which I had been trying to get to for years. (Now it is once again a thing of the past). In any case, I would not hesitate to recommend Tokyo Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Ogikubo. I believe that their standards are high.

I had a bad experience at Tokyo Midtown Clinic where an older British (I believe he was British) doctor told me that numbness in my abdominal area and groin was nothing to worry about and we sometimes lose feeling in parts of our body. I sought a second opinion a few weeks later at Midtown Clinic where it was immediately diagnosed by a Japanese doctor as an inguinal hernia and surgery was arranged. There are good and bad doctors all over.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

it's me:

and some of the local meds and dosages don't work on us.

Was it something to do with the length of your intenstines?

-3 ( +3 / -5 )

What the doctor did not mention is, that if you are a resident in Japan (and have been out of the UK For 6 months or more) when you go back to the UK to have a baby, or an operation, you are supposed to pay full price for the procedure.

Just a warning for you all... in case you get smacked with a large bill after returning to the UK expecting free treatment.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I found hospital treatment was OK, but they really don't want to let you out. Many excuses about you won't be able to look after yourself etc. Maybe Japanese can't, but I most certainly can. The stories about medicine dosage ring true, I was told once I was on double the usual dose, maximum they were legally allowed to give me.

HUGE disappointment for me was getting follow up treatment from local doctors. I had to question them about everything, including pointing out a problem on an x-ray which the orthopedic doctor couldn't see. I ended up going back to the hospital to confirm my suspicions, and after educating the local doctor, never went back to that clinic. Don't want to even get started on the next clinic, complete fraud in my opinion.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I live in Kansai. I has shoulder surgery at Handai Byoin in Osaka last March. Overall my experience overall has been good. I was lucky enough to have doctors who spoke English and one of them, the Sensei to the younger one, trained and worker in the US and Canada. I was able to get away with only a 5 day stay at the hospital, and my experience was great. My nurses were great. Handai hospital is associated with the Handai university medical school. Perhaps that made all the difference.

Outside of my experience at Handai tho, it's been pretty hit and miss, with some pretty horrific experiences. Never break a bone after 9:00 pm in a Saturday night. Aside from not being able to find a hospital, you won't be able to get any money out of the bank machines to pay for one if you do. I broke a hand on a Saturday night. Went to the local hospital Sunday morning (bank machine worked) and they just have me a list of places to go with phone numbers. I couldn't speak any Japanese at the time, so this was less than useless. I ended up going to see a Japanese friend at his work and he took his lunch break and phoned the numbers and was able to find me a hospital that was not only open, but that had an English speaking orthopaedic surgeon on call.

Local clinics are generally horrid. I've only had 2 good clinic doctors in 10 years here. An eye doctor and a dermatogist. ENT clinics are generally the worst. Avoid them if you can.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I know a few University Hospitals that got a bad reputation/track record on medical misses.

Best is ask around the Japanese which doctor is recommended, once that work with the ward office are recommended.

As for English speaking found a lot that can do so or German, myself don't need them now as my Japanese is good enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My nearest hospital's emergency room is closed on weekends!

One of my fellow teachers who lives next door to me stated coughing up blood and feeling dizzy one evening during our school's winter vacation. I drove him quickly to the nearest doctor's office: Closed until new year's. Understandable, I guess, so I drove him to the nearest hospital: Not accepting patients until new year's. Completely unacceptable. I had to drive him to a city ONE HOUR AWAY to find a hospital that was accepting new patients, and then had to wait for about TWO HOURS before we could see a doctor.

That sort of thing would NEVER happen in the States. I know this article is about the difference between the UK and Japan, but still, it's a major shortcoming of this country's health care system.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

What the doctor did not mention is, that if you are a resident in Japan (and have been out of the UK For 6 months or more) when you go back to the UK to have a baby, or an operation, you are supposed to pay full price for the procedure.

However if you are European and have never set foot in the UK or paid a scrap of taxes there you are welcomed with open arms.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

However if you are European and have never set foot in the UK or paid a scrap of taxes there you are welcomed with open arms.

Thats it Nat, dont mention the reciprocation - that UKers can walk in to other EU hospitals and get treatment in the same way. Nigel will be happy with you.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What the doctor did not mention is, that if you are a resident in Japan (and have been out of the UK For 6 months or more) when you go back to the UK to have a baby, or an operation, you are supposed to pay full price for the procedure.

Yup, and that is the UK law for you. You do not have to pay if you say you are back home to stay, if I recall correctly.

NathalieB

However if you are European and have never set foot in the UK or paid a scrap of taxes there you are welcomed with open arms.

And the opposite is true: if you are British and have never set foot in another EU country, nor paid taxes there, you are welcomed with open arms.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The UK system is better than the US, but at least Japan gives you more rest.

And what it with Brits moaning about EU citizens receiving care on the hospitals when Brits are as to do so in other EU countries?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's all about the same in every developed country. Anyone thinK healthcare in Japan is bad? It's bad anywhere if someone has to cut into your body. I want to avoid going to even the best hospital in the world if I can. But I always say they basically got the same stuff here as the rest of the developed world.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No complaints from me after 12 surgeries, my wife giving birth to our 2 kids, and my co-worker's stroke.

Generally, given a soap box to stand on, people tend to complain when available health care can't fix their ills right away, which happens in all countries. You just have to be aware of your condition, understanding of the limits of modern medicine, and persistent in pursuing the best care no matter where you are.

I've seen a 250 pound woman complain that the paramedics couldn't carry her down her narrow/steep 2nd story stairs.

I've seen people who have lived in Japan for 20 years complain that the doctor didn't speak English.

I've seen people who had refused to pay into the national health plan in order to weasel a few extra yen with which to buy more beer/junk food complain that they weren't allowed to back pay their missed payments in order to pay less for the serious treatment they needed now.

Japan is no exception either better or worse. Definitely no better or worse than Canada, my home country. Probably, it's case by case, with dozens of mitigating factors involved.

10 ( +11 / -2 )

"The UK system is better than the US" Interesting thing is a lot of people say that many people go to the States for advanced helthcare. It may be true. But wealthy Americans go to private British hospitals for something not generally available in the USA. And where do these British doctors train? Of course under the public system. There was an Ameican (not Japanese American) woman who came to Japan for stomach cancer treatment she paid 15 thousand dollars cash for. It all balances out.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I had to get a whole bunch of stitches to a cut. No local anesthetic, so it was a bit of a shock getting stitched up.. Lucky i have a fairly high pain tolerance.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Had hospital treatment in four countries over the years with inpatient stays in both Japan and the UK. Outpatient treatment has been pretty similar (Japan, UK, US and Germany). The inpatient stays (minor surgery in Japan & UK) were markedly different. In the UK the staff were great, the treatment took care of the pain and I was discharged in two days with a lot of follow up care provided at home. The staff were great in Japan too but I had to go in the day before the op, and was in hospital for three weeks in a fair amount of discomfort. Once discharged I had to make my own way to the hospital for follow up and having got in really early to register, had sit in the hospital for hours. I didn't like that.

I am seriously concerned about the lack emergency care available at the weekend.

3 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm quite happy with the medical treatment I have received in Japan, although I dread falling ill at the weekend and needing emergency treatment.

Trying to get a doctors appointment in the UK can be difficult and often they try to fob you off with seeing a nurse. My mum was offered a doctors appointment three weeks later, which is useless. She could have been dead by then. In Japan I can be seen almost straight away. You just need to find out who the good doctors are.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Pain relief in Japan is awful - both over the counter and prescribed analgesia is wholly in adequate. You also spend far too long in hospital as an in patient, it's utterly ridiculous, and an enormous waste of the Health Insurance scheme money, to have you admitted a day or two before your treatment. Same with the elongated dental treatments, it should take one appointment to do a filling - not two or three. Far, far too many 'health checks' too and a lot of the treatments I've encountered are sheer quackery, especially the so called rehabilitation treatments for older people. Don't get me started on all these unproven and useless supplements that are advertised in the media - they would be breaking the law in the UK with all the false claims made. I have had some excellent treatment and care in Japan but I don't want to die here, I've witnessed the terminally ill left to roll around in agonising pain because adequate analgesia can't be prescribed, It's scandalous and cruel. I wouldn't have a child in Japan, neither would I seek dental treatment if I can avoid it. Don't start me on the over medicating of self limiting illnesses (anti-biotics for colds, cough medicines) and over prescribing in general and always the most expensive medicine, never a the generic one.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Others have mentioned, from the first post, but the thing that needs fixing is the availability of 24-hour care and co-ordination of it between hospitals.

People are not considerate enough to only sick weekdays 9 to 5, and doctors find that this is very inconvenient, but choose to work the hours they want. The system seems to collapse after dark and at the weekends, especially out of the cities.

My experience was waiting in an ambulance for nearly an hour while they phoned every hospital and clinic to get my daughter seen to (luckily only a broken bone). Closed for the night, no doctors available, we don't do paediatrics here etc etc. Eventually we found somewhere that would take her, but it is really not good enough.

A simple fix would be that any hospital or clinic that wants to be part of the insurance system will need to co-ordinate with others in the area to ensure that there is 24/7 care available in a particular area.

And to the poster who suggested recently to me on a different topic "that if you don't like it here why don't you go home?", does this tired argument cover every inadequacy of Japan?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Thats it Nat, dont mention the reciprocation - that UKers can walk in to other EU hospitals and get treatment in the same way. Nigel will be happy with you.

Then why do so so many make the special trip to the UK for their surgeries and childbirth then? Feel free to hit up your nearest eastern european clinic for heart surgery and find out.

My point anyway was not about reciprocation. My point - and the point kimuzakashii was making - is that British nationals who have paid taxes all their adult lives and then have left the country for 6 months are refused NHS care. Whereas someone who hasn`t ever been to the UK can be treated.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

For anyone who has been to a dentist in Japan you will know that they don't normally give you any pain killers whilst drilling for fillings - my wife has refused their use in Australia...thinks we are all pussies.

An epidural for birth is also virtually unheard of in Japan - whilst in some western hospitals it's up to 95% of births are performed with the epidural.

Tough bunch, the Japanese.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A tip for foreign people in Japan. If they say the ER is closed stick around. Be a nuisance, play the "dumb" foreigner act. Most likely you will be treated :) FYI it works for me in America, Blabbered at they in Hogan and they do not have a clue :) As for pain medications think they give too much except for childbirth. Remember what goes in the mom goes into the baby.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Outstanding article and excellent comments. There are many "ordinary" medical and practical needs for the visitor and long term guest in Japan. This article takes one of the most serious, hospitalizations, and makes it much more approachable. This will be very important for visitors as the Olympics are 'just around the corner'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was taken by ambulance to a hospital miles away also suffering from an extreme case of gastroenteritis with non-stop vomiting. Arriving at the ER in Kawasaki (I came from Machida) they put me in a bed and forgot about me - no drugs not even a bucket. I tried to get nurses attention but ended up vomiting volumosly on the hospital floor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While the quality of care is pretty good in Japan, and medical tech is more or less tops, there is a lot to be desired in terms of putting care of profit. The bottom line is that in nations where health care is included in regular taxes, not a separate tax in which you STILL have to pay 30% of the costs, the former will discharge you given the amount of care necessary while the latter will keep you as long as you can to keep the money flowing. The hospital near where I live is quite small, but recently acquired an MRI machine. I have since had friends who go in for sprained ankles or even just headaches and the doctors always recommend MRIs. A good friend's mother in law fell off a ladder while trying to prune a tree in her yard and fractured a foot. She was treated and could have been released after a couple of weeks with crutches, but insisted on staying for more than three months, despite the personal costs, because she did not want to go home. That meant one less bed available for those in need (and we all hear the stories of people being rejected by hospitals because they are too full and/or cannot deal with the particular problem).

"Some mums (especially first-timers) actually find this extra time very helpful."

How would they know any differently? Again, the longer the stay, and the more the meds and services, the more money the hospital or clinic makes.

My biggest complaint about the system here is the whole idea that it runs on business hours, and if you get hurt on the holidays, you're likely screwed.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

smithinjapan the cost of care in Japan is much cheaper than the USA.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I've never had an experience in a Japanese hospital, but my experiences with clinics were pretty great. No wait time for me and my friend, the medicine was inexpensive but effective. What more could you ask for?

I live in the US and the cost of medicine (and health care in general) is pretty terrifying for me. Finding out that the medication and the visit only costed me around 20$ was awesome (discovering that the government refunded me around 60-70$ when I left Japan was even cooler).

I'm sure it has its flaws (and they can be worked on to make it better), but I really fell in love with Japan's national health care system.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think part of the issue of foreigners discussing this issue is where they are from. Americans sing the praises of the Japanese health care system whereas Brits and Canadians are more critical and are able to compare it a little more fairly to what they have home - fairly meaning that the systems are similar in that "everyone has health care" (though that is NOT the case in Japan nor the UK or Canada is you have been away and not paid taxes).

Doctors here can be amazing or they can be downright horrific. I have had hit and miss experiences but given them, I would not want to be operated on here nor have some sort of illness like cancer. Hospitals - and pharmacies - are in it for the money. Lots of needless tests and meds you really don't need and add in all the silly little check ups every five days to a week to get meds topped up, just money making.

I blew an eardrum nearly two years ago and it took my husband over two hours to find a hospital that was open on a Sunday - and that was with the "help" of an emergency number that helps find hospitals that are open. Ended up at a Red Cross where I saw a guy who said he knew something about ears but gave me painkillers and sent me on my way. The next day when I went to a ear doctor - worst bedside manner ever - he told me that what I was given wouldn't help and that I should not have been given what I was. God help anyone who has an accident where past 6:00 weekends or on the weekends. A HUGE issue with the system in my opinion but heaven forbid you comment on it, the locals and many Americans will get upset and state how great the system is. I've also had some fantastic doctors that I have suggested to many. Every clinic seems to be different so I can't state overall that it is great just as I can't state it is all horrific.

Will say though that folks are generally over medicated, paying 30% on top for things they don't actually need and clinics have doctors with questionable beliefs and qualifications - I recall arguing with a doctor two years ago because he refused to put on gloves when I was bleeding. I prefer the UK and the Canadian system - though neither of those are perfect either.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Hit and miss. I have had any number of horrifying experiences with hospitals here. That being said, they came from being too ill to look around and going to local clinics or hospitals. Same with veterinarians. However, recently, I was told I had a condition that required surgery. This was early enough to give me time to find a good hospital. I did!! Boy was the treatment good from beginning to end and the mental care helping relieve any anxiety was absolutely amazing. I was sure to avoid the university hospitals. The doctors have studied and taught abroad and had forms in English and spoke English, though I chose to be spoken to in Japanese. Not sure why I chose not to hear English. I think my own language made me think too much and I didn't really want to think, especially coming off the anesthesia. Everything was explained and I recovered amazingly quickly. So, definitely shop around if possible and avoid ERs if at all possible (bad experiences there) and ask around.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are good and bad everywhere and I have experienced both in the Japan and the UK. One aspect that I do like here is choice - in the UK you must go to see the GP / family doctor you are registered with and they choose the hospital they might refer you to - here you can ask and shop around for the best you can get.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am a Canadian and colon cancer survivor and travel a lot internationally. So I have annual travel insurance and travel without financial worry. I have hospitalized in Turkey, Germany, Japan, US and Canada past thirteen years. If I have a choice to get sick, it's Japan. Health care and Emergency room in Toronto is getting worse. We some times must sit and wait few hours at least and six to 8 hours in common. But around Tokyo, you get EMS free and fast. Yes, it is FREE, no charge even you are foreigner. Then as soon as you are at emergency department, you get immediate attention. All nurses are in medical uniform, very polite and gentle, unlike most of Canadian nurses in casual cloths. But language is big problem. Patient rooms are much smaller, Hospital foods are so so. The length of stay is way too long even I felt good and ready to leave. However Japanese hospital medical care is the best in my opinion. I wish we, Torontonians get similar to Japanese medicare.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

YuriOtani-

smithinjapan the cost of care in Japan is much cheaper than the USA

spot on! the medical cost in the US is ridiculous, even for small kids. here in japan, as long as you pay your monthly insurance fee (which is cheaper than what you'd pay in the US), you can basically take your child (under 6) to the doctor's with no cost. If you are in Tokyo, the mecial cost for kids between 6 and 12, you pay no more than 200yen per visit (including meds).

Godan-

About pain relief - a doctor told me once that once you get used to strong meds, and if that doesn't work anymore, there is no way you can go back to weaker meds -so unless absolutely necessary, doctors here do not want to give you strong pain killer (morphine etc). Morphines are for terminal cancer and etc.

westerners who are used to strong meds are probably not happy with meds in Japan, but in many Asian countries, doctors use weaker medicine (and people in Asian countries in general prefer not to use strong medicine unless absolutely necessary). That's why Kanpo is so popular.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Health care and Emergency room in Toronto is getting worse. We some times must sit and wait few hours at least and six to 8 hours in common. But around Tokyo, you get EMS free and fast. Yes, it is FREE, no charge even you are foreigner. Then as soon as you are at emergency department, you get immediate attention.

You might want to tell that to the families who have had family members die in amubulances because no hospital would accept them. I recall a year when at least three pregnant women died because everywhere was "full" - I believe one checked 21 hospitals. Hit and miss. At least in Canada you know you WILL been seen - though I agree, the wait times in Canadian ERs is disgusting.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

A buddy of mine has a herniated disc now and his doctor recommends surgery. He's a little anxious as he speaks very little Japanese and may have trouble with paying for the surgery. Could anyone who already had herniated disc surgeries in Japan give us information about the cost? We have searched high and low and still find no mentioning of such things when it comes to herniated disc surgeries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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