Thursday, August 26, 2010

Revisiting Health Care

We seem to have developed a tradition that I would just as soon drop, i.e. Gene injuring himself shortly after arrival.  Last year he cut himself on some broken crockery, which gave us some unlooked-for insight into the health care system here.  This year he scraped his thumb on a bit of rough metal and the darn thing wouldn't stop bleeding, hours later.  Tiny wound, lots of blood.  Visions of tetanus; when was that last shot?

The local pharmacy sent us to a nearby clinic, where a very nice nurse looked at it immediately and explained that she thought a tiny vien had been nicked and it would need a suture.  Unfortunately in France, only surgeons do sutures.  We had to go to the emergency room.

She carefully wrapped the bloody thing, gave us directions on which bus to take and where to get off and wished us luck.  No mention was made of payment.

At the emergency room he was quickly triaged and the nurse there said she thought it didn't need a stitch, but she would defer to a doctor, for whom we had to wait.  And wait.  So far, this was the only resemblance to US medical practice we had encountered.  We waited three hours.

Yes, of course we thought of just leaving and assuming the best outcome, but if it continued to bleed we'd probably have to come back the next day and wait all over again, so we just stayed.  And stayed.  Finally his name was called, the doc looked at it, cleaned it, and said she thought it was fine without a suture, apparently because he had been holding it in the air for the last three hours and there was no way any blood was going up there at this point.  Waste of time?  Sure, he could have been doing the same in front of the TV or at a café.  Oh well.  Another slice of French life.

No one asked for money. We left. There was a full moon. Oh...

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