Script & vocab for finding out patient's status after surgery in France?
February 23, 2021 1:40 AM   Subscribe

A family member has just undergone hardcore surgery in France. Their spouse does not speak French, and is not allowed in the hospital due to COVID-19. We need updates on how the patient is doing, over the phone. Looking for French-language scripts and vocabulary/key terms lists, with urgency.

I have a high general proficiency in French, but don't want to make any communication or comprehension errors for obvious reasons. The patient is in ICU for a few days if all goes well after the surgery, so this is a very stressful and serious medical situation. Having a list of key terms and idiomatic phrases, scripts would be extremely helpful.

Key topics:
- How did the surgery go?
- Was the surgery successful in removing (lung) growths?
- Can his wife visit him during post-surgical recovery in hospital?
- How do we get information about his progress, moving forward? (i.e. Do we need to keep telephoning, or will they reach out?)

Thanks in advance for any/all help, much appreciated.
posted by thetarium to Writing & Language (7 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- LobsterMitten

This must be so stressful for you all.

For something this complex, I would strongly suggest you ask for a staff member who can speak English (more than likely if your family member is in a larger city), or a medically-certified phone translation service. Even in the for-profit US hospital world, these are required to be provided free of charge to patients. Failing that, have a truly bilingual friend be the go-between.

Medical terminology and prognosis is complicated enough in your native language, and the stress of the situation adds extra cognitive load. As a datapoint, I spent a month working in a French hospital, several years ago, but in a non-pulm/critical care unit. I have a C 1 proficiency in French, but if this were my family member in an ICU after lung surgery, I would absolutely want an interpreter.

Best of luck.
posted by basalganglia at 3:58 AM on February 23 [12 favorites]

To ask for a staff member who speaks English in case the person on the phone doesn't understand the request in English, you would say "Est-ce que je peux parler à quelqu'un en anglais?"

Seconding basalganglia that the responses would be incomprehensible in French, I am fluent in French (live here) but had to learn medical vocabulary when I had more health conversations than previously.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:42 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Sorry I'm unable to help with translating those questions for you. If you do phone up you might also benefit from recording the conversation as I think you will find the responses difficult to understand. (Or at least, it would be helpful to have more than one attempt at understanding later)
posted by plonkee at 4:44 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Given that this is in the context of French healthcare system, your best bet will be to find someone who is a trained interpreter, ideally French native speaker who will do the call for you and then relay back any communication. This is what we had to do for our parents-in-law who after coming back to the UK from France needed their medical records from French hospital, letters, emails and phone calls made in English were completely ignored (even though some staff did speak English). It was only after we found a French teacher and a native speaker living locally to my parents-in-law that the hospital started acting.
posted by coffee_monster at 6:39 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

Some quick answers to your questions. Not sure if they’re 100% correct but they should get the conversation started for you. Though I agree you need to have someone that speaks French well call for you so you can understand the answers. I don’t think you’ll find a medically-certified translation service in French public hospitals. I work at a French hospital and at our hospital it is staff members who volunteer to be translators. They may have a list like this. PM me if you’d like more help.

1. Comment s’est passé la chirurgie ?
2. Vous avez enlevé toutes les tumeurs?
3. Est-ce que sa femme peut lui rendre visite après la chirurgie ? But usually patients who need to go to the ICU (réa, short for réanimation, in French) don’t go to a post-surgical unit after the surgery.. they’d go straight to the ICU. So effectively you’re asking if his wife can visit him in the ICU.
4. Vous allez nous appeler s’il y a un changement dans son état de santé?
posted by newsomz at 1:09 PM on February 23

Oh, and by 100% correct I mean exactly how a native speaker would state things. They are correct grammatically and will get the correct meaning of your questions across to the person with whom you are speaking.
posted by newsomz at 1:22 PM on February 23

Oh! Many hospitals have interpreters available for just this reason. Often an interpreter is patched in via phone. You might have to book your call ahead of time, but navigating that shouldn't be a problem given your capacity in French.

A quick google found some articles about the role of of 'interprEtariat a l'hOpital'. Here's another.

Excuse English keyboard.
posted by lulu68 at 10:28 PM on February 23

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