The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 September 2005

Do you know the way in San José?

Saturday, Jacqueline Passey, quite unintentionally, got her first taste of Costa Rican health care. What did she think? A report from the emergency room:

I saw a nurse (who spoke some English) who took my blood pressure and pulse and then I waited another 15 minutes or so for the doctor. He spoke fluent English, I described my symptoms, and he ordered a urine culture.

At this point I had to pay for the doctor's visit (18,500 colones or about $38) and pre-pay for the lab test (5000 colones or about $10). They told me to come back in one hour, so I went to a bookstore downtown and came back a little less than an hour later. My test was already ready and I was directed to wait to speak to the doctor. About 15 minutes later I saw the doctor, he confirmed that I did indeed have a bladder infection as I'd suspected, and he wrote down what type of antibiotic to take (200mg Floxstat twice a day for three days). It took about 15 minutes and 6,450 colones (about $13) to fill my prescription at the pharmacy attached to the hospital.

Altogether it took me about 2½ hours to get treated for a total cost of about $62. Much less expensive and even quicker than going to an emergency room or most walk in clinics in the US. This was at a private hospital, there are also public hospitals (Costa Rica has socialized medicine, but also allows a private market) where it might have cost less but probably would have taken longer.

But the true joy of the day came afterwards:

I asked Terrence for some Tylenol, and when I tried to line up the child proof tabs the lid popped off in my hand. Because there were no child proof tabs. It didn't have a child proof lid. THE GOVERNMENT OF COSTA RICA TRUSTS ME TO KEEP MY CHILDREN FROM POISONING THEMSELVES. I gleefully popped the lid on and off over and over in front of Terrence, which he found rather perplexing until I explained.

I trust the reader to draw his own conclusions.

Posted at 10:10 AM to Almost Yogurt


American pill bottles have non-childproof lids. Just invert the lid on any prescription medicine bottle & it is easier to grab & can be opened one handed. This was done for senior patients.

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 10:33 AM on 11 September 2005

Who, presumably, are in a better position to pick up the dozen or so tablets (at two bucks apiece) which then roll onto the floor, testing the five-second rule.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:40 AM on 11 September 2005