A Trip to the Italian Emergency Room

Ciao Readers!

Well, as at least one of you predicted, experiences continue to happen that warrant (scream out) to be blogged about.  Today was just such an adventure.  Lest you worry, everyone is (basically) okay.

You may remember my blog about “The Gaudí House” – a unique looking house not too far from where we live.  Well, my parents arrived for a visit two days ago, and today we set out to see the sights.  On the way we passed the house, and of course my mom had to take photos.  Well, not realizing that the very large dog that lives there is territorial, my mom stuck her camera (and thus her arms) through the front gate (pictured below) to get a better shot.  The usually docile (i.e. asleep) dog immediately sprang into defense mode and promptly bit my mom’s arm.

Long story a little bit shorter – no one at the pharmacy minded that we cut in front of everyone in a panic (there was visible blood dripping) while the pharmacist bandaged up my mom’s arm well enough for us to walk to the emergency room.  The emergency room was a bit of chaos and I did the best I could in Italian (and also learned the irregular past participle of “bite” – “morso”); they cleaned and bandaged my mom and then sent us to the waiting room to wait for her to get various shots.   In the waiting room we met another American with a broken finger (an illegal street vendor pushed her down running from the police) and another American tourist who wasn’t paying attention while walking and fell and broke her leg and ribs.  There were many Italians and other foreigners in various degrees of distress – your typical emergency room waiting room, except with more languages.   The lady with the broken finger was apparently low on the “emergency” list as we got there several hours after her but got seen before her (she actually took photos of my parents for me on her iPhone, which she’ll e-mail me later).  We were all glad for the company to chat with and pass the wait.

In any case, after several hours my mom was seen and I actually had a conversation in Italian with the doctor (or nurse, still not sure) about what shots he was administering, possible side effects, etc.  We even joked around (he said that Italy gave my mom a little gift –  “regalino”) to bring back.   My mom was a trooper, though I had to look away during the shots.   We were pretty sure the dog, who we see every day and never leaves the yard, doesn’t have rabies, so the doctor(?) seemed satisfied about that.  After we were done it was time for the bill…

Now, how much do you think a trip to the emergency room complete with bandages and shots would be in the U.S.?  500$, 1500$, more?  The total bill came to 30 euros (about 39$)(plus another 4 for a prescription I had to pick up at a pharmacy).  Pretty impressive, yes?  You’re a foreigner with no health insurance and they take care of you and send you on your way for next to pocket change.   Funny, I had asked Steve where the hospital was just in case before his mom visited, hoping I would make it till August without ever having to find out how the health care system here is.  Well, the best laid plans…but overall, my mom will be okay and feels that she had a “very positive experience” with the healthcare system here.  So kudos to Italy where kudos are due!

Until the next (hopefully less blood-pressure-raising) adventure….

gaudi house

Leave a comment


  1. Thank goodness you speak Italian! Crazy!

  2. I’m glad your mum is ok and you had this positive experience. I had a similar one in Southern Italy where I had an accident and got to the hospital needing some stiches: no bill at all! Spero che in futuro non abbiate più bisogno di andare all’ospedale e che ora vi possiate godere appieno questa vostra visita. Un abbraccio 😉

  3. What a story! Tell your mom, there’s no need to get crazy making memorable stories to tell on her Italy trip. lol Have fun guys! xo

  4. D

     /  May 5, 2013

    Glad it all worked out, that must have been scary initially. I’ve only had good experiences (so far, knock wood) with health care here, especially the costs. 😉 A friend of mine’s then-boyfriend, now husband , had some kidney stone issues while visiting the US with her (and didn’t buy any insurance package) and a bill arrived at her family’s home for $4500 for the ER visit, blood tests, x-rays (IVP), and medicine.

  5. AWWWWW your poor mom! Thats nuts! My husband and I recently moved to Florence and this post made me freak out about not knowing italian yet. 😉

    • Hi and thanks for stopping by my blog! No worries – there were plenty of other non- Italian speaking wounded and it all seemed to get worked out. Welcome to Florence! Feel free to ask if I can answer any questions.


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