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Medical Misconceptions

I’ve read a lot of stories in expats’ Japan memoirs regarding medical care in Japan. Although I don’t claim to have gone through a full assortment of illnesses while residing abroad, I was admitted to a Japanese hospital without an English-speaking staff for surgery. Maybe the rules are different from institution to institution, but I’ve heard far too many misconceptions in these books to let them go unanswered.

1. Japanese doctors are no good

Hardly. The doctors are well trained and most have practiced abroad during their residency or for at least a few years’ work. Strictly speaking, there are no Japanese doctors – doctors are a species unto themselves. Come down with something serious and you’ll see what I mean.

2. You must provide your own food while admitted

I’d be delighted if someone would prove this statement to be true, but I seriously doubt it can be done. Like most hospitals around the world, you will be charged a ridiculous amount for poor quality food, but food you shall have. I was so sick of the bland rice they were serving at Imakiire Hospital I snuck to the nearest convenience store at least three times to get an アメリカドグ.

The harsh but true facts, however, are…

The cure for everything in Japan is a suppository

Well… not everything, but 99.99% of the time.

Doctor’s won’t tell you about certain diseases

Actually, I’ve found this to be true across China, Korea, and Japan. It varies doctor by doctor of course, but a few believe that if you have a potentially fatal disease like cancer or AIDS it is unwise to inform you of your true condition. Why live with that knowledge?

There are always giggling nurses

You’re a foreigner. Need to have your leg amputated after an unexpected crush injury? Just been diagnosed with a terminal illness? Can’t speak Japanese that well? Regardless of your condition a plethora of giggling nurses with always be at your disposal. They know you’re in pain, but hey, your unwieldy grasp of their awesomely powerful language is funny.

Fin. Other experiences in this area?