Falling sick when you are in an unfamiliar country can be a stressful event, and though Hoi An does have a few English speaking GP's:- Dr Cuong (114, Tran Cao Van st. Dr Tran (602, Hai Ba Trung st), they really should only be considered for common, minor ailments.
The reasons for this are that are these GPs are exactly that - general practitioners. Their medical training (and prescriptions) when compared to the west, are practically medieval. It's also not uncommon to find the medications you are presented with were banned in your home country in the 70's.
Patient to Doctor Communication Barriers
Surprisingly language barriers are not too much of a problem (unless your symptoms are complicated and unusual it should be fairly easy to communicate them so that your Hoi An GP understands). The main communication problem you'll be faced with is a cultural one - doctors in Vietnam are considered the oracle - you present them with the problem, they make a diagnosis and then present you with a fix. Thank you and goodbye. Questioning their knowledge is considered disrespectful and can lead you down a rather cold and uncomfortable path.
Leave your Googling of prescription drugs and diagnosis until you have left the surgery
What Illnesses can a Hoi An GP Handle?
Generally things like tummy upsets, sore throats, insect bites - all the niggly little things that would normally clear up on their own given time, but as you are on holiday you'd like to disappear.
When Not to See a Hoi An GP
If you have a complicated medical history and are already on medications prescribed by your own doctor there is a strong chance that your Hoi An GP will be unfamiliar with your pre-existing condition and the drugs you are on. This could lead to a confusing diagnosis and a prescription that may not compliment the drugs you are already taking.
Babies, small children, the older traveller, people with strong allergies to medicines. Even the most common minor medical problem can easily (and quickly) become serious medical emergencies for visitors in this bracket. If possible contact your GP back home for advice or call upon the international doctors at either Da Nang Family Medical Practice or Hoan My International Hospital.
Procedure: Making an appointment and what to expect
To make an appointment go directly to the surgery. The little extra you will be paying (see below) for your appointment will allow you to bypass the usual wait and get you immediate access to the GP.
The consultation room will be private - a separate room or a corner cordoned off by a curtain. Your GP will ask a few questions, take your blood pressure and carry out a basic examination. Once your GP is happy with his or her diagnosis you will be given a prescription with the option to purchase the medication directly from the surgery or to take to a pharmacy. Quite often your prescription will be presented in loose in a small plastic bag secured with an elastic band and will likely contain a few colourful vitamins to support your system as it fights/recovers from whatever ails you. There is rarely any medical reason or scientific research that calls for you to take these.
The GP has recommended further exploration:- X-rays, ECG's, a specialist..
If your local Hoi An GP has recommended you for further testing it's very likely they will be fixing you up with an appointment at the Hoi An Pacific hospital, who have a reputation for overcharging tourists and misdiagnosis. Politely make your excuses and fix yourself up with an appointment at Family Medical Practice or Hoan My's international clinic - both are in Da Nang and both accept medical/travel insurance.
This really can vary. As with most local businesses, the local GPs partner with hotels and resorts - like it or not that means if your hotel make the appointment or call out the doctor on your behalf you'll be charged a little extra to cover the commission paid to the hotel (it's usually around the 30% mark and even if you do head directly to the surgery you'll likely pay this mark-up if one of the first questions you are asked is which hotel you are staying in).
Despite this, appointments are cheap in comparison to back home and you should expect some change from $10US (including prescription).
To secure yourself from surprises ALWAYS ask how much the consultation is when you book the appointment and if the price quoted for the prescription seems high, take it to one of the local pharmacies instead.