What it feels like in a hospital ER in Vietnam

By Thuy An   January 23, 2019 | 11:03 am GMT+7

Staying calm however extreme the pressure and stress is the key, says an emergency doctor in Hanoi.

What it feels like in a hospital ER in Vietnam

Dr Vu Tuong Lan, 36, works in the emergency room at Bach Mai Hospital, a humongous public medical facility. He works 10 hours a day plus two night shifts every week.

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Talking about his job, he says being an emergency doctor has trained him to "become a calm person in every situation that life might throw me into."

Bach Mai is a general hospital, one of the largest in Vietnam and one that has played an important role in the nation’s healthcare history. Its ER has 20 doctors and 80 nurses and gets around 200 patients each day.

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"It’s obvious no reservations can be made for emergency aid, and that is why everybody in the team has to be ready," Lan (R) says. What he usually does when he gets a patient is to loudly and clearly explain the person’s status and what his team should do. That is also how he guides interns and newly graduated doctors.

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"There is no general formula for patients at the emergency department. People might talk about the 48- or 72-hour golden period for emergency aid, but in fact it all depends on the patient’s situation. In case of a brain stroke, doctors should act within 3.5 hours. When it comes to emergency aid, the faster the better, and every second is golden."

Lan (L) recalls a case two years ago when he needed to save a 40-year-old woman who was delivering her third baby: She had hemophilia and kept bleeding while her blood pressure approached zero. Lan had to talk to her family, explain why his team would have to remove a part of her uterus and put her through two operations.

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Long and tiring operations are a routine story for emergency doctors. Lan (R) and his colleagues understand it is their duty to do whatever they can to save a patient’s life even when they already show signs of dying and reviving might need a miracle.

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Despite constantly hovering on the border between life and death, Lan still cannot contain his emotions when a patient dies. He says he always tell himself to stay calm because there is no time for grieving.

"We don’t have much time for that kind of helpless silence since there are still other patients that need me."

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"There is a lot of stress and pressure. The door of our department never closes for too long and the light never goes out." But besides what happens inside the operating room, doctors also have to deal with the stress and worries of the patients’ families.

There are instances of families overreacting. They yell at and even assault doctors, and it is actually a common problem at all hospitals, Lan says.

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Emergency doctors in general have to be clever and discreet when interacting with patients’ families. Besides informing them about the patients’ situation, they should also explain to them the procedures. A calm voice and demeanor obviously helps soothe the people outside the operating room.

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If they are not on duty, emergency doctors have to make rounds, checking on patients they have saved, constantly acquire new knowledge and learn new techniques and learn from one another.

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With his working schedule the way it is, Lan says he cannot spare enough time for his family.

"When I go to work, my child goes to school. When I’m home my child is in bed." He says he is lucky that his wife is also a doctor and so understands what he has to go through every day. He always looks at his family as a motivation to work.

"If we earn the trust of patients and our families, we have won the battle."

Photos by Giang Huy

 
 
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