Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Al Ahli Hospital versus Doha Clinic

Okay I'm back from the hospital for the wisdom teeth extraction at Al Ahli Hospital. So far so good, face is not too swollen and the pain has been more like a dull ache that non-prescription painkillers keeps in check, I don't need the heavy-duty painkillers thankfully. The procedure was a little more complicated than a standard wisdom tooth extraction so I needed to be under a general anaesthetic and spent 24 hours in the hospital.

So in the course of one month I have undergone general anaesthesia and a hospital stay in both Doha Clinic and Al Ahli Hospital (AAH). AAH is the newest private hospital in Doha, spacious with wonderful-looking facilities, and most companies purchasing private medical plans for their employees want AAH on the list. Doha Clinic is older, not as spacious, and tends to be more crowded. But are looks everything? Here's my comparison:

Approval for the procedure: Tie. both places sent the request for the procedure to the insurance company and as soon as approval was given my procedure was scheduled within a week.

Initial blood work and admissions procedures: Doha Clinic. I just had to go to the laboratory for the blood tests and there was no waiting or delays processing paperwork. AAH was busier and it took around a half an hour before I could get my blood taken, and I also had to separately go to an admissions office to sort out the room booking, which I did not have the do at Doha Clinic. Good thing AAH had sent a nurse along with me otherwise I probably would have had to ask someone where to go. I know, I know, a half-hour wait for blood work is not exactly an ordeal, but it was still quicker and easier at Doha Clinic so it wins.

Preapproval consultation: Tie. this is a bit trickier because there are two consultations involved, with the surgeon and with the anaesthesiologist. The consultation with the surgeon was definitely longer and more detailed at AAH, but the consultation with the anaesthesiologist was better at Doha Clinic. At AAH the anaesthesiologist consultation was a couple of minutes in my hospital room before the procedure, at Doha Clinic the consultation took place days before at the anaesthesiologist's office and we had a good 15-minute discussion. I will say that much of the information asked by the anaesthesiologist at Doha Clinic was instead done by a nurse at AAH but I feel more at ease talking to the specialist directly. Also, no one at AAH mentioned fasting before the procedure. I fasted anyway because I knew from my operation at Doha Clinic that you should fast before going under a general anaesthetic. It was not until I got to AAH for the procedure that I was asked when I last ate, not sure what would have happened if I'd had breakfast just before going to the hospital?

Hospital room: AAH (by a hair). I was in a private room at both hospitals and the facilities were pretty much the same: rooms were around the same size, extra chairs and couches for guests, a small refrigerator, closet/wardrobe to keep stuff in, TV, etc. So it is down to the small stuff, AAH wins out because: the room is newer, AAH provides a room safe for your valuables, hospital gown was softer, and the small refrigerator is stocked with water and juice for your guests.

Nursing staff: Tie, both excellent. Professional, friendly, and never any problems or delays when I called for them.

Cleanliness: Tie. at both places staff came by to clean the rooms and the garbage frequently

Operation: I was unconscious so what can I say? AAH was more serious about patient identity, every step of the way from admissions, the nursing staff, to just outside the operations room, I was always asked to confirm: my name, what procedure I was here for, and then I would be shown the signed consultation form which detailed the procedure and risks and asked to confirm that was my signature. Looks like AAH was really worried about doing the wrong procedure on a patient. Was it overkill? Can't say. Guess one cannot be too careful with these things.

Food: unfair to make a comparison. I was at AAH for wisdom teeth extraction so my meals were limited to liquids and ice cream while at Doha Clinic I could avail myself of their full menu. Doha Clinic provided me 4 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) and the food was pretty good, for example one meal was roast chicken on biriani rice, green salad, soup, cooked vegetables, another salad similar to a Greek salad, and dessert. Sometimes I couldn't even finish the meal there was so much food. AAH did ask me if I was having guests pop by and when so that if I wanted they could prepare meals for them (!!), something Doha Clinic didn't ask me about.

Postoperation consultations: unfair to make a comparison. on the face of it AAH was better as the dental surgeon came by when he said he would, checked the wounds, provided an update as to what he thought and asked if I had any questions, at Doha Clinic sometimes the surgeon came by as scheduled, sometimes not. BUT at AAH I was dealing with a dental surgeon while at Doha Clinic I was dealing with a general surgeon who was on call for emergency surgeries. I do not think it's fair to criticise a surgeon who does emergency surgeries for not stopping by my room at a pre-arranged time - he may have had to save a life instead. And given the number of car accidents in Doha I'm willing to bet there are a lot of emergencies to deal with.

Both places also had a Guest Relations person come by to see if everything was okay and if I had any questions or concerns to either let them know or call the nurses.

So there you have it, both places were pretty good. Some people in Doha may be drawn to AAH instead of Doha Clinic because the clinic side of DC is crowded (the hospital part isn't though) and the building is not as new or fancy as AAH, but it certainly did an adequate job and had standards comparable to AAH. I was treated well at both places.


Anonymous said...

hope we provide good service and treatment when u are in aah

Anonymous said...

obviously sir, doha was the best on you eventhough the comparison was equally mentioned...am i right?

Glen McKay said...

*chuckle* Sorry, but I'm not going to conclude one is better than the other aside from what I've already posted. I will say that I usually go to Doha clinic because it is closer to where I live and I like the system we are you just mention what specialist you want to see, take a number, and wait your turn. My dentist is at Al-Ahli though so I am always there if I need dental work.

Anonymous said...

anyway sir, thanks for patronizing the dental clinics in aah...we can assure the best and good treatment for u as being one of our good guest.we are more than happy to continue taking care of your teeth. thanks really...

Anonymous said...

In Doha clinic, the only interest is to make you spend money as much as you can because all doctors their are taking a percentage. You might find yourself undergoing a non-indicated surgery for the sake of money and commission.

Anonymous said...

Went to Al Ahli for food poisoning and they gave me 3600 Ryals worth of tests and examinations and separate bills from three different doctors in one night. Seems a little over the top.

Trying to claim this on insurance is turning into a nightmare. The billing section of Al Ahli never seem to answer their phone.

Glen McKay said...

I can't comment on the billing section at AAH because AAH is an approved clinic under my medical insurance coverage so if the procedure is preapproved I don't have to make a claim to the insurance company. Same with Doha Clinic. I don't recall ever having to submit a claim to the insurance company after the procedure.

Goes to show that when you have insurance coverage you should go to their approved clinics if possible, just makes things easier.

As for the comment that is 2 above I went to Doha Clinic many times and most times they did not recommend a bunch of procedures, sometimes it was a checkup and then I was on my way, sometimes something was prescribed.

Anonymous said...

Oh ok - me again.

I was visiting Qatar from Dubai and the food poisoning was an emergency so there was no time to get pre approved. My insurance only coveres me in Al Ahli when in Qatar.

The doctors and nurses seem fine btw from what I saw of the hospital - but the administration could hardly be worse. I called their billing section 20 times today before someone finally picked up the phone - no exageration.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this post! Ive got to have my wisdom teeth extracted soon but ive got a problem - i CANNOT swallow tablets!! Can you please tell me what sort of meds you took or were prescribed? How was the pain during recovery time? Thanks again!

Glen McKay said...

Hopefully your wisdom teeth are not so messed up that you're not going to have surgery under general anesthesia like I did!

I recall that when I went to Doha Clinic for a surgery they gave me a few “pre-anesthesia” pills, maybe to relax me, before I was wheeled to surgery and put under the general anesthesia. AAH didn't do that.

At neither place was the main anesthesia in pill form, typically an I.V. drip.

Post-operation, while I was in either hospital, the painkiller was paramecetol (Panadol) from an I.V. drip.

Once released I was given pills, though for the wisdom teeth operation it was not prescription just over-the-counter Panadol. If there is a non-pill over-the-counter painkiller you like to use just let the dentist know that's what you will be taking at home. Chances are they won't mind.

Never had an issue with pain while recovering.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information! Haha, i'd rather be knocked out during surgery than on local anesthesia!! You've given me high hopes regarding the aftermath of the surgery! (pain wise)

Anonymous said...

is al ahli hospital open tommorrow?thankz

Glen McKay said...

I don't know for sure but aside from Emergency I doubt many of the departments will be open or if they are would have only a few staff. Best thing to do is to call the hospital at 44898888 to find out what is open and to make an appointment.