With possible change in the health care system and an insurance reform bill in the process, many are looking at other nations for examples. Most countries in western Europe currently have a universal health care system. One of these nations, Denmark, is the temporary home to Southwestern student Margaret Durham. Unfortunately, upon arriving in her new home, Durham suffered an emergency and was brought to the local hospital. Though there were many challenges faced during her first day in a new country, Durham did not need to worry about paying any hospital fees. Following is the story of her first couple of days in Copenhagen, Denmark:
While on the airplane I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic I was prescribed before I left the country. There was some swelling in my throat and I began having a little bit of trouble breathing as the plane was descending.
The first responders met me at the airport gate and did basic preliminary procedures, such as giving me oxygen and taking my blood pressure. Then the first responders for the ambulance and the EMTs arrived and took me to the hospital.
Denmark offers emergency transportation and the EMTs then took me in an ambulance to the hospital ER.
I arrived at the ER on a Saturday morning and I was the only patient in the ER for several hours. The nurse brought me food herself and helped translate the one item of paperwork I had to fill out.
All of the health professionals with whom I interacted (2 first responders, 2 EMTs, 4 nurses, and 4 doctors) were extremely helpful, efficient and attentive. I felt very well taken care of.
I shared a quite large room with two other patients. Each patient section was separated by a removable wall-like divider.
I was able to leave the hospital Sunday morning after being admitted the previous morning. I spent a little over 24 hours in the hospital. I would have been discharged after only 3 hours except that I had a second occurrence of swelling and difficulty breathing.
The Danish government payed for my care in full. I even got 2 days of an anti-swelling prescription medication for free. This is not typical (usually one would have to pay partially out of pocket for prescriptions), but pharmacies are not open on Sundays and my doctor wanted to make sure I could get the medicine.
I only had to fill out one short form about my emergency contacts and everything else was handled entirely by hospital staff.
Discharge was not rushed at all. I didn’t have any papers to sign or fill out. The doctor just came and talked to me, gave me the meds, asked if I had any questions, and then let me go (after giving me directions to the metro station).
The medical equipment was equal to that I’ve encountered in US hospitals. The main difference was that rooms were typically shared with other patients (although this is fairly common in older US hospitals) and a few amenities were missing (such as tvs in each room) probably to reduce the cost of a hospital stay.