treatment. If home remedies do not work and you are ill with a common complaint, such as a bad cold or stomach upset, your work unit's medical clinic may be able to prescribe medication. Health care staff there will be trained in basic medicine, although most will not speak English. There is a tendency to over-medicate, however, by prescribing a combination of large doses of antibiotics and traditional Chinese medicine. Injections with large needles are common. Chinese medicine is effective for a wide range of illnesses and is especially useful for the colds and diarrhea that often trouble foreigners. If you are seriously ill or if you feel a diagnosis is needed, you have several options. If you are covered by the SOS Assistance Plan, you may want first to call the SOS doctor or your own doctor in the United States. Either of them may be able to make a preliminary diagnosis and suggest what medication you might need and what further medical help you should get. You could also go immediately to one of the hospitals in your city that offers outpatient care to foreigners. In Beijing, the Peking Union Medical College is generally considered the best, but the Sino-Japanese Hospital and the Friendship Hospital are also good. There is also the International Medical Center, in the Beijing Lufthansa Center, Rm. S106, No. 50 Liangmaqiao Road.
If you prefer Chinese medicine, the hospital associated with the Chinese Academy of Traditional Medicine is good, particularly for people with back problems seeking a good therapeutic massage. The Worker's Hospital in Nanjing and the Huadong Hospital, the Huashan Hospital, and the Number One People's Hospital in Shanghai have a special wing for foreigners and usually have at least one English-speaking physician on duty. The Wuhan University Hospital is also good. Speak with other foreigners in your city to find out which hospitals serve foreigners.
If you or one of your family members or friends have a medical emergency, a taxi is ordinarily the quickest way to get to the hospital. Ambulances are in short supply and do not ordinarily have medical equipment. If you are diabetic, or if you have asthma or severe allergies, let your close neighbors and friends know, since they are likely to be available and can help if you have an attack. Wear a medical identification bracelet if you are allergic to any medications or if you have Rh-negative blood. Chinese do not have Rh-negative blood and thus do not stock it in their blood banks. Therefore, it is extremely important that anyone with Rh-negative blood register at the U.S. Embassy so that blood can be located quickly from the foreign community in case of emergency. The embassy launches periodic blood drives and encourages all Americans to participate.
Medical service at the U.S. Embassy is confined to the staff except in extraordinary, life-threatening situations. The Japanese, Australian, French, and British embassies usually have a physician on staff who