Ten Useful Tips for Doctors Working with Foreign Patients by Maria Hioni

Greece, on average, attracts more than 17.5 million tourists each year.  Despite the crisis facing the country, this number is not likely to change dramatically.  However, the recession has greatly affected the employment of medical personnel.  Many doctors for example, are not only immigrating abroad, but also seeking employment on Greek islands in order to provide their services to tourists.  This raises the question: Is there a difference between managing local patients and tourists from other lands?
According to Dr. Manolis Paterakis, a general practitioner, who resides permanently on the island of Crete and whose patients include both locals and visitors, there is a difference mainly in protocol. 
While working with foreigners visiting Greece can be a challenge, especially for doctors who have little or no experience with these types of patients,   Dr. Paterakis has provided the following ten useful tips:
Ten tips for doctors working with visitors from abroad:
1)      Check their insurance cards to see what their coverage includes and if there is a deductable or additional cost involved.
2)      Be meticulous in taking and recording every single detail of the patient’s history and medication.  If there are any accompanying relatives, ask them, as well, in case the patient has forgotten to mention something.
3)      Use the services of a translator because some expressions used by the patient might not be understood.
4)      Ask for a follow- up one day before their departure in order to make sure they can endure the flight without any problems.
5)      Follow the Anglo-Saxon protocol of politeness.
6)      After having examined the patient thoroughly, restate the medical problem because you might discover something different from what you understood due to the language barrier.
7)      Keep in mind that they may return next year, thus, proper bedside manners are crucial.
8)      Learn more about the cultural backgrounds of your past or potential patients in order to prevent misunderstandings.
9)      Follow the protocol of therapy because insurance companies might question  what you did.                   
10)    Write a detailed report of every instruction given and examination ordered, and keep a copy.    If the patient does not follow all your advice you will have proof that they were instructed to do so.
The objective, according to Dr. Paterakis, is to have the patients up and about as soon as possible.  Their vacation time is limited and the last thing they need is to spend it sick in bed.  In order to wantto come back to Greece, foreign tourists should have a positive experience even if there is a health setback.
Maria Hioni teaches Medical English Terminology and Communications Course at the School of Foreign Languages at the University of Athens.

Dr. Paterakis, general practitioner, contact information: email: [email protected]
Smyrnis 33
Hrakleio, Crete
tel.: 2810241044

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