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Emergency Abroad: 25 must-know medical phrases all Brits should learn

The English language is the most widely spoken language in the world, but not everyone can speak it, and when dealing with medical situations, there can often be a language barrier.

While in some instances, this can be difficult, where emergency treatment is needed, it could prove fatal.

Therefore, knowing and understanding a few basic words and phrases can be extremely helpful when dealing with difficult situations.

Taking the top five most visited European countries, the language experts at Preply have shared 25 commonly spoken words and phrases used in a hospital to help those who may find themselves in an unwanted emergency.

France is one of the world’s most visited countries, with a variety of tourist attractions including the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Louvre and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, no wonder it attracts millions of visitors each year.

Like many European countries, for British travellers, the GHIC or EHIC identity card entitles you to state-provided medical treatment.

However, research shows that only 39% of the population in France say that they can speak English.

Therefore, some of the common words and phrases you may need in a medical situation include:

  1. Salle d’attente- waiting room
  2. J’ai de la fièvre – I have a fever
  3. Appelez une ambulance!- Call an ambulance!
  4. S’il vous plaît prenez place- Please have a seat
  5. Avez-vous une assurance?- Do you have insurance?

The healthcare system in Spain is ranked among the best in the world, however, a recent study showed that almost 60% of Spain speaks no English at all, and of the remaining 35%, most of them don’t speak it very well.

It is not mandatory for a Spanish doctor to speak English, and often you won’t be able to choose which doctor would treat you.

Below are some handy words and phrases that would help you get by in a Spanish hospital

  1. Médica/o – doctor
  2. Clínica – clinic
  3. Tengo una cita- I have an appointment
  4. No puedo respirar – I can’t breath
  5. Tienes una mascarilla – Do you have a face mask?

Germany is one of the biggest spenders on healthcare in Europe, spending 11.1% of its annual GDP on healthcare expenditure.

Under the German healthcare system, you are free to choose your own doctor and many can speak at least some basic English.

However, for those struggling with the German language barrier, below are five handy phrases:

  1. Ansteckend – contagious
  2. Behandeln – to treat (a patient)
  3. der Blutdruck – the blood pressure
  4. Ich bin krank- I am sick
  5. Bitte helfen Sie mir!- Please help me!

A recent study reveals around 30% of the Italian population is able to speak English and this percentage has been steadily increasing over the past few years.

Italian is a beautiful language, and it can somehow still remain sounding charismatic in a crisis. Here are some key words and phrases you would hear in a medical environment:

  1. Operazione- surgery
  2. Radiografia- X-ray
  3. Paziente malato- sick patient
  4. Cerotto adesivo- band aid
  5. Pronto soccorso- emergency room

Finally, Turkey is becoming an extremely popular tourist destination for UK travellers, with around 45.7 million annual visitors, it always has sun, sea and delicious food on offer.

If for some reason you need to purchase some medication or something more serious, here are five common key words and phrases in Turkish to help you get by:

  1. Eczane- pharmacy
  2. Ambulansa ihtiyacım var- I need an ambulance
  3. Bana yardımcı olabilir misiniz?- Can you help me?
  4. Sanırım bozulmuş bir şey yedim- I think I ate something bad
  5. Ateşin var mı?- Do you have a fever?


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