Saudi Arabia: Medical Care in Riyadh

 

As the following video will illustrate, good medical care and facilities are available in Riyadh for expatriates.  The video makes reference to private hospitals and facilities.  There is a reason for that.  Governmental hospitals are usually restricted to the treatment of Saudi nationals.

Kingdom Hospital, which is shown in the video, is a popular hospital in Riyadh featuring many creature comforts.  It is also the most widely recommended hospital of Western embassies.

I think it is always helpful to view a video on an important subject which is of great concern for an expatriate who is locating to a new country.

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23 Responses

  1. Saud Arabia is just begun a campaign to straighten up the medical system. Currently there are very few laws regarding the medial industry. Just now, they are writing the laws on who can work in a hospital in kingdom. The introduction of medical insurance has become a frenzy feeding in the medical community. Some hospitals do provide a much higher level of care than others, and the price usally refects this. Since the king has opened the restricted hospitals to the public and the intro of insurance, it has begun a wild frontier of health care here in KSA.

  2. Depends on who your employer is and what nationality you are, of course. Vast majority of expats have horrible insurance.

  3. If the medical care in KSA is so fabulous, why do they royals go outside of country for testing and treatment?

  4. I seriously don’t know whether to laugh or to cry after watching this video.

    If I told you all the crap that has happened to me and my baby in this “state of the art” hospital you would not even believe me. Kingdom might have been decent in 1990’s..

    As a medical professional I would say the medical care here IMHO is not good, let alone excellent. The hygiene standards are appalling. MRSA is a widespread problem. Some physicians don’t have credentials or are otherwise clueless. Nurses come from third wold countries with matching hygiene practices. People have surgeries that leave them paralyzed or with punctured organs. So many issues I’m not even going to start on this because I would end up writing the whole evening.

    All I can say is that why do 99% of the western medical staff here avoid having any kind of treatment done in Saudi? Having surgery here would be a nightmare for most of them! I know people who had to have emergency surgery here and literally were panicking (especially the OR nurses) and writing their wills because they know what goes on behind the scenes.

    And what about the royal family? They have their own physicians (mostly americans) brought in or then they just go straight to the U.S to hospitals such as Johns Hopkins that even has their own section for VIP Saudis.

    Why is the crown prince having medical tests in U.S if it’s soooooo excellent here???

  5. I have read some appalling stories from other expat blogs, and I will take Layla’s word for it.
    I am sorry bad things happened to you and your baby, I hope you are both alright.

  6. I have had my share of experiences in Saudi hospitals with several hospitalizations and two major surgeries. In my experience, I can commend the Saudi staff. Sure; it likely helped that I was working at the facility where I received care so I knew who would be taking care of me in advance.

    There are hospitals I would avoid in Saudi and others I wouldn’t hesitate to go for care.

    The States does have a higher concentration of specialists as compared to Saudi. Saudi’s medical sector is still developing its indigenous capabilities such as having its own medical schools. It has only been in the past five years that Saudi has begun graduating its own doctors from within the Kingdom.

    There remains a stigma in Saudi society against nursing as a respectable profession. Until that stigma is removed, Saudi will likely have to rely on bringing in expat nursing care.

  7. It was Florence Nightingale who made nursing into a respectable and even heroic profession.

  8. Saudi needs its own local Florence.

  9. ‘Governmental hospitals are usually restricted to the treatment of Saudi nationals’….WHO HAS WASTA.

  10. @Snowman – or expats who work at government hospitals.

  11. I have heard a lot of horror stories on Saudi’s hospitals so I am not buying this story as the way things are in the Kingdom of backwardness. This hospital might be the best in the Kingdom only because it adheres to western protocals as well as employees many of the western doctors. So they would cater to the elite and western expats mostly. I think it is telling that the royal family comes to the US or the west for their medical care which tells me that their best is still not good enough.

    The rest of the people, I think will see the house of horrors that I have heard about. I can’t image why an expat particular a woman would want to be a nurse in Saudi as they are see as something not to be respect. But then again that sentiment about western women really permeates across Saudi anyway.

  12. Bigstick

    ”I can’t image why an expat particular a woman would want to be a nurse in Saudi”

    Those are in noble mission and great cause. Would you like your country to send soldiers who go out to kill or send nurse and doctor who go out to cure and care for people. Those medical professionals work hard to correct the image of your country and your people and they are doing great job. If the defence budget diverted to health missions around the world then I think both side will win.

    As the Afghan poet of the 10th century Abul-Fath Busti said: ”Assist the people and you will enslave their heart”.

  13. Snowman:

    This article has nothing to do with Afghanstan. It has to do with the backward conversative nation known as Saudi Arabia that is keen on spreading political Islam through the foot soldiers known as Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabob, etc., financing mosques worldwide and sending their representatives of these groups to preach their hate and backwardness so that they can try to influence the young or instable to become hatemongering nut jobs just like themselves. After all Saudi is the number one financer of these groups and the institutions that generate them.

    So lets get back on Saudi on the hosipital issue because I can go off on the hatemongers known as the conservative religious nutters who fill the country of Saudi Arabia and their invading forces or foot soldier groups that were outlined.

    I again stand by my statement because no one is enslaved in Saudi except by the system that is Saudi due to your (if you live in Saudi) religious nutters. I again state that I cannot image why an expat particular a woman would want to come to be a nurse in Saudi Arabia as she will be deemed to be less respectable than even other western female expats.

  14. An expat female nurse usually comes to the Kingdom as she can make a good salary with excellent benefits.

    There are a number of good hospitals throughout the Kingdom. One thing though is that in many the approach to care has been adapted to fit the culture.

    I’ve been to many of the hospitals in Saudi either as a patient, employee, caregiver or visitor.

    I don’t think it is appropriate to jump the gun with such negative comments if you have not been there.

  15. There are a lot of stories of expats running away and cannot stand how they were treated in Saudi. So I don’t think that I am jumping the gun. Saudi treats women terribly and that is a known fact as well.

    Yes many people often go for the money and then regret it. I have talked to a few expats who will never go back to Saudi due to their treatment.

    I would also like to point out other countries are now getting involved on how expats are treated as their own people are treated poorly, beaten, imprisoned, murdered in some cases – executed. So I don’t feel like I am jumping the gun.

    Maybe Saudi needs to look at itself and deal with it’s internal problems and the fact that they have to use so many expats to do jobs that their people can’t do or will not do because they consider it beneath them. That includes being a nurse which is critical to patient care. So no I am just pointing out what is already known and out there. Facts have nothing to do with being negative they are just facts.

    As far as hospital care well I refer you to the above people for the quality of care Lonnie and Laylah. I too have read articles on the quality of care and although you might have hospital or two that is meant to take care of the elite or western cliente the rest are for the locals. They are not going to get the same care.

    If it is so wonderful as well then Saudi wouldn’t be trying to straighten up their medical care and this is coming from their government. It has been reported that there are medical staff who have never been trained to be medical personnel and that even includes doctors that are working in some of these hospitals. Again, facts not negative but facts.

    The only good thing ,depending on whether this is lip services or not, is that they actually see a problem that needs to be addressed on the quality of care their citizens are given.

  16. I won’t deny facts but it is not as bad as being made out. I have been to what one would call “localized” hospitals. There are very good ones and also ones not as good. Reading reports about Saudi Arabia can be mixed in depending if they are from an expat or a Saudi and whether the report is written by someone who has lived there for a period. Saudi is not the West so should not be judged necessarily by Western protocols.

  17. I worked in saudi , although eons ago and so did my husband, i had some excellent nurses assist and never lacked comprehensive care or tried to cur corners. Yes the medical field there is not cutting edge and quality of hopitals varies to a large extent.

    I’ve heard it’s gone downhill the past few yrs. but majority of the saudi populaton seem Ok with it. the royals are a diff cup of tea .

    In my time there i have not seen any doctor willfully be negligient or any nurse risk any patient, they have needed educating but have always followed prtocol. I’d blame the visitors more than the medical staff, coming in large numbers, eating all sorts of things, tacking in dirt and generally being loud. in some womens wards you’d think a party was taking place.

    Well standars need to improve and are doing so slowly and more than that their medical ethics need a overhaul ,beyond that it’s not so terrible.

  18. Lots of the going downhill happened after the change of the health minister..

    The hospital that’s advertised in this clip is the one I had to have emergency surgery in and it was a nightmare. I’m not going into details but almost everything that could have gone wrong, did.
    This is supposedly among the best private hospitals in Riyadh where many expats go to. I’m not the only one in the western expat circles to have started to avoid the place like the plague..

    It frustrates me to think if something serious were to happen to any family member and we would have to trust the care here. Surely there is good and even excellent care out there, but it’s not easy to find and it’s scarce. there might be a good physician of one specialty in one hospital but for another you have to search elsewhere.

    Western nurses are very much appreciated and valued in Saudi, always treated the best by patients. Unfortunately the treatment is different for the Asian nurses..I think it comes from the different level of training we have and how the nurses interact with the patients.

    Nursing as a profession is becoming much more accepted in Saudi, more so the men than the women if working in mixed environment. Saying that nursing is looked down upon is simply not true.
    There will ALWAYS be patients and doctors who treat nurses like maids, everywhere in the world! That’s just a fact.

    Carol I know you worked in the hospital but you didn’t work in the actual wards or in the patient settings, that is where the problems are, in the everyday working ethics and the quality of care..You won’t see that from admin or as a patient always..

    Nurses who come from west have very hard time adjusting to the new “standards” and the fact they can’t practice their profession like they do at home ie make decisions and use their brains. This is not a problem for many asian nurses to accept. But for the western nurse, it sometimes becomes such a huge problem, they can’t stand it and they leave.
    The biggest issues expat nurses have here are with the outdated and often illogical hospital policies, the lack of medical ethics and hygiene standards as we know them and general working ethics..

    Bigstick so now you know the real reasons behind it, so please stop spreading lies 🙂

    Radhaa raised a valid point about the visitors, they often contribute to many of the problems! My good friend worked in ICU here for almost 5 yrs and has now had enough and resigned. Her main reason: the relatives!! There’s no control of them whatsoever and she is one of those few nurses here that refuse look the other way when she sees the patients health compromised because of the relatives behavior..It’s like fighting windmills..

  19. Laylah, your description best describes what my experiences have been. In terms of actual doctors- I have found absolutely excellent doctors for most of my needs. It’s the hospital experience that frightens me. That said- I’ve had two emergencies with my children. The first landed me in a small hospital that is not one of the big names. We recieved excellent treatment. Later- when another son required hospitalization, the pediatrician sent us there because he knew we had liked it. Again a positive experience and I have to say impressive Asian (Indian) nursing staff. You just never know. It can be such a mixed bag. I also know people who’ve had criminally bad care. A relative had a very serious condition and her specialist couldn’t figure it out. I diagnosed it via the internet- it was textbook. If I can figure it out- a doctor certainly should be able to. I had seen him previously and thought he was incompetent but others insisted he was good.

  20. Laylah:

    Point out where I lied in my statements!

    Here is but one article there are a lot of others.

    http://mideastposts.com/2011/07/23/saudi-arabia-maternity-good-business-bad-medicine/

  21. But I will still take the testimony of people I know are real and who are actually on the spot and sharing here over a news article.
    Layla is a nurse herself!

  22. @laylah – i have heard it’s going down but i’ve also heard it’s improving in some hospitals. so depends on your luck i guess.

    See every country is diff in it’s med practise. and there are wide ranges in every country. e.g india has the best medical care – medical tourism and also the worst – govt hospitals. as a student it’s the best place – veritable mecca of diseases. but completely disgusting.
    I found asian nurses in saudi very caring, and quite well educated, although not upto making decisions independantly, they would look for approval.

    From a caregivers point i have seen drs who don’t know much in saudi but that could be attributed to the narrow view of cases they see. nowadays saudi is churning out very good drs. comparable to our kids. they do have a slight attitude issue as in ‘i’m a dr ,nurse this is your job’ which we cure right away as soon as they come in as interns 🙂 and realize they are lowest in the totem pole .

    with more saudi drs coming here andtraining and going back i expect the standard to improve there.

  23. @Bigstick

    Hey thx for sharing that insightful link about quality of hospitals in saudi. Brought back a lot of nightmarish and hellish memories of hospitals in Rwanda, when both my wife and I were stationed there in the 90s.

    It is pathetic to see an oil-rich country like saudi to have hospitals at par with a very poor country like Rawanda. It is inexcusable to say the least!

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