Vietnam Week 3: Nov 7-9, 2011

Third week in the hospital!

Interesting observation… many attempted suicide patients are admitted into the Tropical Diseases department on a weekly basis. Most popular poisons are: paraquat, paracetamol and other herbicides/insecticides.

Unfortunately, a lot of patients don’t make it back home, especially those who have used paraquat. In Vietnam, paraquat comes extremely concentrated, so treatment cannot be given fast enough and patients end up dying. The family is consulted and then they can decide whether or not to bring the patient home to die.

Many people, however, are fortunate enough not to have taken a lethal dose of poison, or are given an antidote in time. Sadly, VN has not reached the standard of care as in Australia/Canada. There is no mental health/psychiatry aspect to health in VN and attempted suicide patients are sent home as soon as they are better. Doctors do make an attempt to understand why patients tried to take their lives and to persuade them not to do it again, however, it does not extend any further than a short conversation in the public environment of a patient room with at least 10 other people within hearing distance.

It’s really too bad because some of those patients will definitely attempt to suicide again, and will most likely succeed. This was one of the biggest differences we noted within the Vietnamese health care.

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