Limited instructions

This morning I paid yet another visit to the Indian hospital for a pregnancy-standard glucose tolerance test. Several times, I have alluded to the fact that this hospital and its processes are difficult to navigate, so I thought I would do a little walk through of the process.

**Warning** There is one picture that might seem gross to some readers.

Step 1: Wait in line at Outpatient Billing to pay for your tests. That’s right, you pay in full, up front. If you stand in line long enough, you will see people, with presumably complicated or highly specialized test orders, roll up with huge wads of cash. My test was relatively inexpensive at Rs 740, about $16.

It is important to note that while this sounds inexpensive to us, most of the patients are getting paid Indian wages, not American wages, and this is fairly pricey. Furthermore, the hospital staff and even doctors are also getting paid Indian wages which keeps the hospital overhead far lower than at a US hospital. As a point of reference, my doctor here bills about $12 for a patient visit.

Step 2: Wait in line at Lab Reception. Nobody tells you to do this part. You just need to know. They give you one of those little collection bottles that many of us are familiar with and a number, then tell you to go give blood and urine samples.

Fortunately, the Lab Reception line is pretty tame this early in the morning. Later in the day the line winds all over the room, intertwined with the “Old to New Records” line and the “Reception” line.

Naturally, helpful details such as where the bathroom is, or where to leave the aforementioned urine sample are all overlooked. Perhaps more importantly, there is no warning that you best have brought your own toilet paper.

Thankfully, I have started keeping a stash in my purse. I find myself hoarding napkins at restaurants and stuffing a few extra squares of toilet paper in my purse at every chance I get. I must break this habit when I get home.


Step 3: Give your samples. First wait in line for the bathroom, then wait for your number to be called at the Blood Collection room. I had my act together this morning and scored #10 at 6:15 AM! Seriously, that is a huge deal!

Step 4: Choke down a cup of glucose. Those of you who have been subjected to this tortuous test before feel my pain. It is like drinking a giant cup of watered down honey. My stomach does flip flops just thinking about it.

Think the maple syrup chugging scene in Super Troopers, but worse because you’re in a hospital blood collection lab, not a diner. Blet.

Have I mentioned that I tried this test a few weeks ago? I puked. FAIL! That may be why I know the process so well now.

Step 5: Go back to Lab Reception to pick up the cup for my next sample.

One of my interest areas in grad school was operations management. Ironically, we did a case study on this hospital in International Ops class. I have another operational improvement suggestion for them: Give each patient all of their collection devices at once to eliminate multiple processing of the same patient and minimize the line at the Lab Reception counter.

I was able to talk the guy at Lab Reception into giving me the cups for samples two and three at the same time, but he sure wasn’t keen on that idea.

Step 6: Wait one hour.

Step 7: Produce urine sample #2. Finally discover that the first bathroom stall is a western toilet, while the rest are of the squatting variety. ::Big sigh of relief.::

Depost sample at designated drop-off location. Ewww.

**Gross comment alert** Is it just me or are some of these samples really crazy colors?



Step 8: Elbow* your way through the line at Blood Collection. Remember, samples #2&3 are time sensitive and Blood Collection has moved way past Token #10 by now.

*It is important to note that lines work differently in India. You do not necessarily get your turn by waiting in line nicely. More commonly, the most assertive, ahem aggressive, person in line goes next. Always stand your ground and do not be shy about crowding because if you leave personal space in front of you, someone will fill it and suddenly be ahead of you in line. As a borderline claustrophobe who really appreciates my personal space, this concept is extremely difficult for me.


Step 9: Repeat Steps 6-8. (And Step 5 as well if, you didn’t think to/weren’t able to talk the Lab Reception guy into multiple collection cups.)

Step 10: Sweet relief! Call your driver for a ride home!

Kind of. We’re not quite finished yet. At this hospital you are responsible for picking up your own test results and delivering them to the doctor yourself.

Step 11: Wait 24 hours, then return to Counter 6A to collect test results. See comment above about aggressive line-waiting. It is definitely called for in this line.

Step 12: Make appointment with doctor to discuss results.

So thankful to be home now. Can’t wait to go back tomorrow for an adventure at Counter 6A!

All in all, it honestly isn’t such a bad experience now that I understand the process, but my first attempt at the glucose tolerance test made me never want to go back again. In retrospect, the queasy feeling that the glucose drink gave me the first time around probably did not help my attitude any. It may have helped that I discovered bathroom stall #1 this time around as well.

  1. Jena said:

    Oh my goodness, what a….different experience.Glad you were able to get it done with relative ease. It’s crazy that you can just push your way to the front of the line.

    • Brit said:

      I got really upset the first time that I was pre-paying for a doctor visit because as I stood there paying, two guys flanked me at the window jockeying for next in line. It was so bizarre to have them standing there, looking over my shoulder, in a situation that I was raised to see as somewhat private. In all fairness to them, I am in their country and, culturally, there seems to be nothing wrong with listening to another patient’s business with the doctor. A HIPAA violation in the making!

  2. You poor thing! Have my fingers crossed the results are good (and you don;t have to tackle anyone in the process of picking them up).

    • Brit said:

      I didn’t even think about what happens if I fail the test…probably additional visits to the doctor and almost surely more of those gross glucose tolerance tests. ::Fingers crossed.::

  3. Stashing napkins and TP in your purse? India is turning you into a crazy bag lady!

  4. Brit said:

    That had me laughing out loud! Dude, that is necessary for survival in a land that frequently relies on washing in lieu of paper. In theory the washing should seem much more sanitary, but my crazy American ways are deeply ingrained, and I have a strong preference for toilet paper.

  5. Jill said:

    Oh my! Hopefully you pass the test…I can only imagine how your post would read if you had to do the three hour version of the GTT! Good luck!

    • Brit said:

      This was the three hour version!

  6. By the time you head back to the States who won’t know what to do with yourself…TP in the bathrooms, semi-logical lines, all kinds of personal space…

    And paying before hand is a little weird, although with the chaos that your photos show I can see how it might be necessary! Hopefully everything turns out with this test and you won’t have to go through this again…at least not for the same reason!

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