Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Trip to the Doctor

Today I had to take Chandler to the doctor. He has been sick all week, but insisted on going to school (crazy kid) and then stayed up and partied with us last night until after midnight. When he woke up this morning he could barely speak, barely breathe, and claimed that his chest hurt. I decided that a trip to the doctor was in order.

First, since I hate speaking French on the phone and since we live approximately two blocks from the doctor, I walked to the office to see if I could make an appointment for Chandler. Our doctor sees patients from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays by appointment only. The receptionist said that they really did not have any opening, but that if I brought Chandler back at 11:30 a.m., the doctor would probably find a way to fit him in. She just asked for his name, and the appointment was made. 

When Chandler and I got back to the office at 11:30, we were directed to a waiting room, where an ailing aging woman was eager to discuss all of her maladies with us. I did not fill out a medical history form. I did not give any insurance information. I did not sign a HIPPA disclosure form. Nichts. Nada. Zilch.

The elderly woman was called into the doctor's office at 11:40. About fifteen minutes later, the doctor came for us. It was the doctor himself who invited us into his office. No nurses in French doctor's offices. The room had a curtain divider in it that separated the examination room from an office with a desk. We were pointed to the office side, where the doctor asked what the problem was. Chandler explained his cold symptoms. Next, he asked to see our "Carte Vitale," which is the card that French people have for their socialized medical system. I said that since we were foreigners, we did not have a Carte Vitale. He simply said, "D'accord." Okay. 

The doctor then invited Chandler to the examination room, but left the curtain open, so I was pretty much present with them. He listened to Chandlers heart and lungs, felt his glands, and looked down his throat. He then declared, "Ce n'est pas grave." It's not serious. 

The doctor returned to his desk and Chandler returned to my side. The doctor asked Chandler his birth date. Chandler gave it. The doctor did not ask if Chandler was currently taking any medications. He did not ask if Chandler had any drug allergies. He did prescribe three medications: a pain reliever, a cough syrup, and a nasal spray. He did not prescribe antibiotics. We have never had a French doctor prescribe antibiotics, whereas it seems we can't leave a doctor's office in the States WITHOUT a prescription for antibiotics.

He printed out the prescriptions right there at his desk, signed them, and gave them to us. He then asked if I would like to pay by cash or check. I told him I would pay by cash, and he wrote out a bill by hand for 23 euros. I gave him a 50, and he gave me change from his very own wallet. 

He walked us to the door, wished us a good day and Merry Christmas, and we left. 

Did I mention that I did not fill out ONE form?!?!?  That I did not sign ONE thing??!?!? Don't you find that shocking...and strangely refreshing?

After we left the doctor's office Chandler walked home and I walked to the Pharmacy. Again I was asked for a "Carte Vitale." Again I explained that I did not have one. The pharmacist noted that Chandler had not yet had any prescriptions filled there. But when he entered our last name into the system, MY name came up, as I am the only member of the family who has had prescriptions filled at this pharmacy. He didn't want to have to bother to enter Chandler's name and address, so he just put the prescriptions under my name. I am pretty sure THAT would have been illegal in the States. 

The total for all three prescriptions came to 10.09 euros. The pharmacist said 10 euros would be fine. He did not want to be bothered with making change. 

I was home with the prescriptions by 12:20 p.m. That's right, I left my home to take my son to the doctor at 11:25 a.m., and an hour, 33 euros, and ZERO paperwork later, I was home with three prescriptions. 


  1. Wow - that's amazing! Poor Chan, hope he feels better really soon!

  2. That's funny. Our first trip to the doctor for me was the opposite. I thought I might have strep throat, though I'd only had it once in my life. EVery other time I've had something that looks like it but it's not strep and does respond to antibiotics. he gave me and rx for antibiotics without a strep test then wrote an Rx for each member of the family though they weren't sick. we didn't fill them. They also don't worry about the length of the prescription as much. Ray is a pharmacologist and was developing drugs so it was always interesting to see the differences. -tracy