Go to a hospital emergency room

Go to a hospital emergency room

In short
Last update26 avr. 2022

What is it?

There are around 650 emergency services in France, in hospitals and clinics. These services are reserved for people who need urgent medical attention.

Good to know: Emergencies are often "saturated", that is to say that there are too many people going there when they are not in a life-threatening emergency. That's why it's important to have good reasons to go. If you are not sure if it is an emergency, you can call the emergency services to help you assess whether or not you should go to the emergency room (see step 1).

Who is it for?


France entière


France entière

What to do?


Evaluate if you need to go to the emergency room

Emergencies are reserved for issues that require urgent attention.

⇒ For example, you should go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:

  • pain in the chest or left arm
  • hemorrhage, diarrhea with blood
  • paralysis
  • fever that lasts / very high
  • burn, electrocution
  • malaise, convulsions
  • difficulty breathing, speaking, or walking
  • road accident (even without pain)
  • object inserted into the body and cannot be removed
  • intoxication, poisoning
  • fall with possible fracture
  • sudden allergic reaction with swelling
  • acute and localized pain (head, stomach, …)
  • attempted suicide...

Good to know: This list is not complete. It's normal for an unusual problem to worry you.

⇒ It is not necessary to go to the emergency room if you have a health problem that can wait until the next day (or Monday if it is the weekend), to make an appointment with a doctor in a practice medical.

For example:

  • pain that lasts for several days
  • need a medical certificate / renewal of a prescription
  • vaccination
  • extension of a medical leave of absence...

⇒ If you have any doubts, to decide if you should go to the emergency room:

- during the week and the day, contact your doctor if you have one

- if your attending physician is not available, contact 15 (Samu) if you can communicate in French. Otherwise, contact 112 (European emergencies), to speak in English or another language. You must explain your symptoms and a regulating doctor will tell you:

  • if you need to go to the emergency room,
  • if you need to go see a doctor on call,
  • if you need to benefit from a consultation or an intervention at home.

- in the evening or at the weekend, you can consult a medical on-call service. Depending on where you live, the services are different. Here are some points of contact:

  • on-call medical homes (especially in large cities). Click here to discover the medical centers in Paris. It's without an appointment.
  • SOS doctors (if you need a consultation, but not in an immediate emergency): if you live in Paris or in the 92, or 93, or 94 department, call 01 47 07 77 77 to request a visit to residence

Find the nearest emergency room

There are general emergency services in the majority of hospitals and clinics.

You can check if there is an emergency service near you: write your city or your department on this site, in the searches on the right of the page.

There are also specialized emergency services:

  • pediatric emergencies (for sick children or accident victims)
  • gynecological and obstetrical emergencies (for pregnant women or in the event of bleeding, falls, pain, etc.)
  • dental emergencies (if you have a toothache)
  • ophthalmological (for the eyes), cardiological (for the heart), psychiatric (for psychological problems), dermatological (for the skin) emergencies…

Good to know: All these services are often present in large cities. They make it possible to free general emergencies.


Visit the emergency room

Take with you at least:

  • your Vitale card or your health insurance certificate if you have one
  • your health insurance card if you have one
  • an ID
  • your phone and its charger
  • an occupation (example: a book if you feel able to read) in case of waiting
  • a means of payment (credit card, cash, checkbook)

Take clothes adapted to the season (coat, sweater, t-shirts…) and underwear.

Travel to the emergency department. In hospitals and clinics, emergency departments are often well signposted and have parking.

Good to know: Warning: if you are not able to drive or move around on your own, ask for help to accompany you (from a friend, family, neighbour, volunteer, etc.) Even if you think you are able to go alone in the emergency room, your state of health may not allow it. Be careful! If in doubt, do not drive, and avoid being alone!


Register at the reception

The reception is different according to the establishments but in all cases, you will go through:

  • administrative reception: creation of a file with your identity and your Vitale card
  • “first aid” reception: a nurse will provide you with first aid if necessary (example: bandages), take some measurements (your blood pressure, your temperature, etc.) and assess the seriousness of your situation. Depending on this severity, he/she may redirect you to a treatment room or a waiting room. Do not hesitate to ask him/her questions.

Good to know: If you are accompanied by a trusted person, leave your belongings with them to avoid losing them (but keep your phone and charger with you!)



If you are redirected to the waiting room, follow the instructions given to you on the authorization to drink / eat / take medication.

Your waiting time depends on:

  • the seriousness of your situation according to the other patients (if a patient is in danger of death, he has priority even if he arrived after you)
  • the availability of health professionals and equipment for examination, care, etc.

It can be short (less than an hour) or long (several hours). Be patient and wait calmly.

You will then be called to the treatment room.


Treatments / examinations

In the treatment room, depending on your situation, you will benefit from:

  • a medical consultation with an emergency doctor and possibly a specialist doctor (who may take time to arrive)
  • examinations (scanner, X-ray, blood test, etc.)

Between these different actions, you will have to wait either in the waiting room or in a “box” (a small room) where you can lie down.

If your condition allows it and depending on the waiting time, a light meal may be given to you.

And after?

Exit from the emergency room

Permission to leave must be given by a doctor.

Depending on your condition, you can go:

  • in a hospital room: if you need hospitalization or other examinations, you will stay in a room. In this case, you can ask someone you trust to bring you personal stuff.
  • at home: if you do not need emergency hospitalization, you leave with a prescription, possibly medication for the first few hours, administrative papers and a letter for your doctor (if you have one).

Pay the "emergency patient" package if you are not hospitalized

If you leave the emergency room without being hospitalized, you will have to pay €19.61 . It is an “emergency patient package” (FPU) which can be reduced or free depending on your situation (the different cases are specified here).

You can pay:

  • directly from the emergency department,
  • when you receive the bill from the hospital.

Good to know: Keep the invoice, it will allow you to be reimbursed by your mutual insurance company if you have one.

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