My Horrible Experience in a French Hospital Emergency Room!

My Horrible Experience in a French Hospital Emergency Room!

Jun 6, 2024 | All Blog Posts, Our Travel Adventures | 2 comments

Who would have guessed the blog I would write in Paris would be explaining why I would never go to a French hospital? But here are talking about it. 

Warning: graphic images!!!

In case you missed it, let me catch you up…

At the top of the dome at the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

On our first full day exploring Paris, we were at the top of the dome of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. We were enjoying great views, taking beautiful photos, and about ready to walk back down the dome when I took a terrible fall. My head was bleeding something terrible. The paramedics were called and I was taken to the closest French hospital. 

I’ve been to a hospital before while traveling in Europe so I didn’t think much about it. However, I didn’t know anything about the French healthcare system. The most important thing to know is it’s free but free doesn’t equal good. 

I should have been clued in when the paramedics didn’t have a basic first aid kit with them. One paramedic borrowed tissues from a bystander, poured water on the tissue, and attempted to clean my head wound. Borrowed tissues and a used water bottle on my open head!! 

Then I should have been clued in when I saw the ambulance waiting room. The smell was horrendous, like vomit on top of more vomit. 

Let me pause here and say we firmly believe in accessible and affordable health care. I’m thankful people in France can go to a hospital, get treated, and not be in financial distress because of an accident or illness. However, there must be some better basic standards of care. Paramedics should carry a first aid kit and be trained well to manage an emergency in the field. Then there’s the hospital staff, they need more training before they touch a patient. 

When I was taken back to a room I was greeted by a student doctor who only went by his first name. He was terribly unorganized, continuously losing and dropping things. His English was better than my French but that’s not saying a lot. 

Back up for a just a moment, in 2019 when I was in a Spanish hospital I had an interpreter with me at all times. I shouldn’t have taken that for granted. By the way, from my experience the Spanish know how to manage an affordable healthcare system and have a well-trained staff. 

Back to my student doctor, who wasn’t going to let my husband come back to the room with me. Boy, he didn’t see me coming because nobody was going to touch my head until my Brian was there to support me. The student doctor said patients weren’t allowed to have anyone with them was because of overcrowding. Well, the only place that was overcrowded was the waiting room so letting Brian come back just freed up room in that area. Sometimes I don’t understand the logic of others. 

At this point he’s attempting to clean my head wound. We realized after we got home how poor of a job he did cleaning my head because I should have had at least 2 more staples and he missed connecting the skin on one staple. So now I have a head wound without a proper closure. 

The photo on the left is what the student doctor saw based on how he cleaned my head. The photo on the right is what we saw when we cleaned my head when we got home!

Oh, but I missed the most important part! At no point was I offered pain medicine, nor was I checked for internal damage in my head or any other part of my body. I have a huge bruise on my backside but nobody checked my spine or neck. 

The student came at me with a staple gun without numbing my head, properly cleaning it, or offering me pain medication. When I wouldn’t let him touch me until I got something for the pain, the best he offered me was the equivalent of 500 mg of Tylenol. Then he finished his paperwork before coming back to staple my head. 

France is a first world country, though it is a civil liberties country, they can do better. They can be affordable and still do so much better. I have never been so disappointed. A licensed doctor never even came in to follow up or check the work of the student doctor.

When he was done stapling my head I received a prescription for basically Tylenol and was sent on my way. My head was never cleaned or wrapped. I received no gauze for the bleeding that was still happening. They were done with me. I gathered up my blood soaked sweater, took my bloody mess of self, we called a taxi, and went back to our apartment to use our own first aid kit to finish cleaning me up. Thank goodness we were traveling with a first aid kit. 🤦🏻‍♀️

The bottom line: If you’re in Paris (which is all I can speak to), there is an American hospital. Go to that hospital! Do not ever go to a French hospital, ever! Oh, and maybe travel with a first aid kit. 

We arrive in Spain next week just in time to get my staples removed. I’ll let you know how that experience goes. It can’t be worse, right?


  1. Ellen

    That is just terrible!! I will certainly remember your experience. So sorry this happened to you. It’s funny because you think of the French as being so festidious… well, not in their healthcare! Perhaps the French also go to the American hospital LOL.

    • MColeman

      It was just awful! But you’re right, they aren’t so fancy when it comes to health care. 😆🤦🏻‍♀️ Thanks for following our blog. ❤️ – Michelle


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