First Doctor Visit in Panama

David and I had our first doctor visit, a dermatologist. We visited Hospital Chiriquí last week to find the office and made the appointment then. That was when I was pleasantly surprised and today just continued the good feeling.

First, I have been going to US dermatologists for 25+ years. Raised in Florida + loving the tan = skin cancer. This is a brief description of my dealings with US dermatologists. Call for an appointment and wait at least 3 months to get one. Arrive on time and fill out page after page of redundant information. Wait so long that I talk to other people in the waiting room and find that many have the exact same appointment time as me. Finally get called into a room to wait again. Doctor comes in for no more than 2 minutes and ASK ME where the problems are. Aren’t they the ones who went to medical school? Zap, zap, and maybe a biopsy and the doctor is gone for another 3-4 months. I’m willing to bet they don’t even know my name.

Today was completely different. David and I had appointments scheduled 20 minutes apart. No one was scheduled at the same time or between our appointments. Twenty whole minutes of undivided attention. Dra. Rodriguez came to get us and took our basic information. Without asking, she examined my entire body – including my scalp which is never done – and found several spots needing attention.

Liquid Nitrogen canister Dra. Rodriguez did not have a nurse in the office. She needed to fill the liquid nitrogen canister and did it herself in the office. She attacked several spots and then took a biopsy. She explained the care of my treatment, wrote a prescription and asked if I had any questions. They she explained about when I would hear about my biopsy results. David was also seen, treated and given a prescription. We entered her office on time and left 40 minutes later. At no time did I feel rushed.

This treatment cost $35 each, just $5 more than my deductible in the US. This is the first time I feel like I was actually ‘seen’ by a dermatologist. My friends say the same things about all the doctors they have seen in Chiriquí. Not only is it affordable but pleasant too.

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7 thoughts on “First Doctor Visit in Panama

  1. We have seen many doctors and have also been pleased with the attention. You will find though that many people have the same appt times at many of the doctors and are seen first come, first served. I waited three hours one day with Olivia to see a neurosurgeon. Best to arrive early and bring a book!

  2. Wonderful visit! Last time I went to the dermatologist, I saw the PA. I thought “they usually give more time to the patient”. Nope. Few minutes later (if that) I had a prescription for rosacea but no real confirmation of a diagnosis (since I diagnosed it myself), and no real follow up instructions or guidance. What did I expect for the two minute discussion? Silly me. The co-pay was $20 and the prescription is $40.

  3. Thanks for sharing this information with the world. It helps us newbies who will be coming to the country to answer the question that many people ask us “How is the Health Care in Panama”. While most of our health expenses are covered here in Canada, we still have the long waits in the waiting rooms only to see the doctor for 2 minutes as well and the waits for surgeries (unless an emergency) are ridiculous.

  4. Both David and I have gone to Dr. Chen here in Boquete for minor issues – rojo ojo and a cat bite – and were amazed at the efficiency. Each time we just walked in with no appointment. Within minutes, we were seen by Dr. Chen, treated and walking out. David showed up on a Sunday afternoon, rang the doorbell and Dr. Chen answered. He also needed a tetanus shot – which was free at the Boquete clinic the following day. While he was at the clinic, they reminded him to return for his free flu and pneumonia shots.

  5. I would like some information about getting a mammogram in David. We live in Bocas del Toro and I don’t have a doctor yet in David. Do I need to go through a doctor to get a mammogram and where can I get this done? Your blog is very interesting, we are Canadians and have been in Bocas for 3 years.

    • I don’t have any experience with this procedure but people have had the done on a walk-in basis at both Mae Lewis and Chiriquí Hospitals. Others go to Punta Pacifica because they apparently have more modern equipment

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