Going to see a specialist at a hospital in France involves a carefully choreographed dance to the tune of computer printouts and the rustling of paperwork. In part one of our ‘Going to Hospital’ series, we look at the always-joyful rendevous!
Arriving at the hospital you will see various groups of people milling around or sitting – some will look like they have been there forever but don’t let this put you off. They haven’t, they are probably patients who have gone for a stroll and are having a people-watching rest, unlike those who are outside hooked up to their drips and having a smoke.
Somewhere in this area there will be a ticket dispenser. In some larger hospitals there is a multiple choice ticket dispenser for out-patients (ambulatoire – it took me ages to figure out that this didn’t mean I had come or had to go by ambulance), appointment with surgeon (rendezvous chirurgerie), anesthésiste, etc.
Press the appropriate button and take the ticket. If it is multiple choice you may be lucky and have different coloured tickets indicating a specific area to wait in. If not, watch the overhead screen(s) and wait for your configuration of letters and numbers to come up. Once it appears, look for the static or flashing light over a desk indicating that the receptionist is waiting for you.
At this point you should have your green card, top up insurance, name of who you are seeing, and passport ready. If you can’t help it because it has already become a habit, feel free to take your electricity and phone bill as well as your driving licence, but you really shouldn’t need them.
When your number appears, approach the desk with a “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” and sit down. In my experience the receptionists feel rushed and don’t really like you hovering over them as they complete your dossier with your name, address, telephone number, the name of your doctor and photocopy your passport, green card and top up insurance information.
Now you are a bar code. A sheet of bar codes will be handed to you with instructions on where to go next.
There is usually a separate area for outpatients. Approach the secretary and hand her your bar code sheet, saying who you are there to see and your name (it works for me). Usually you can then take a seat again.
Depending on what kind of specialist you are seeing you may be taken to have eye drops administered, your blood pressure checked or to have your heart rate monitored. You may also be taken for an x-ray prior to your specialist appointment.
Eventually you will go in to see your specialist. If nothing is wrong you go back to the secretary, pay any bill that is presented, and leave.
If not, you may be sent to the radiotherapy area where they will x-ray you. You wait for the x-rays and take them back to the secretary. Sit down again and wait for the specialist.
If he/she decides you need an operation, the fun really begins
If the specialist decides you need an operation, the fun really begins!