Warning: American Hospital of Paris

Since our repatriation (and our last blog) we report that we are going OK. Stewart has been back in our apartment for almost a week now, after many months of rehab. We love our Sydney .. miss our Paris, and feel very fortunate to be given so much time in privileged circumstances in both of these wonderful cities.

Our update at this time is principally to report on the American Hospital (mentioned in our last blog) and normally we don’t talk about negatives of our experiences as mostly they are resolved in one way or another and don’t worry us. However, our experience at the American Hospital of Paris should not but pushed aside without comment. Others should know about our experience. Our letter written to the hospital explaining our concerns about our treatment, sent on 19th August, received a very offensive reply around a month later. See below. The key points we raised relate to Stewart’s three-week stay, in bed the whole time:

  1. We received a very hostile reception on arrival by ambulance at the hospital. The Doctor on duty, Hanke, thought we had not reserved our room, and despite telling her the reservation was made through our insurance company, she didn’t check, she merely told us “you should have checked” (that the booking was in place). Why be aggressive and not check? Later at the Admissions office, I was told by a very nice lady that of course our reservation was in place, made by Allianz.
  2. The hospital staff used the hoist to assist Stewart transfer from bed to chair/shower etc. only once, on our arrival. After that he was told they could not find it. Stewart was there in bed for more than three weeks.
  3. A few days before our departure in one of the manual transfers (that is hospital staff helping Stewart without equipment) from bed to chair he fell. The hospital states that there was no record of this happening, so we can assume they are calling him a liar. Since that time he developed a very sore wrist and this in turn has been diagnosed as Pseudo Gout.

The reply we received is here (scanned from the original letter)

We have written many letters over the years, to thank various organisations for their support and consideration and occasionally to suggest a few things that would improve the lives of others (as intended with our letter to the American Hospital). This is the first (and hopefully the last) time we have made public our issues. This time because of the response we received from the American Hospital. You can read the originals of both letters here so there is no ambiguity about the exchange of information.. we have been told (effectively) we had nothing to complain about. So our message to anyone reading this, and especially our fellow wheelchair users: DON’T USE THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL OF PARIS, UNLESS YOU ARE PREPARED FOR THIS ATTITUDE AND LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM.


My letter to the American Hospital of Paris

Mr and Mrs S MacLennan
903/168 Kent Street
Millers Point NSW 2000 Australia

Written: Thursday, 24 July 2014
Updated and posted: Tuesday, 19 August 2014

 M. Francis BAILLY
American Hospital of Paris – 63, Bd Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine – France

Dear M. Bailly,

Re: Patient John Stewart MacLennan – arriving on 14th June departing 7th July 2014

My husband, John Stewart MacLennan, was a patient at your Hospital arriving on the evening of Saturday 14th June 2014. He was directed to your Hospital by his travel insurers, Allianz Australia. We had earlier been referred to the Hospital Salpetriere where Stewart was admitted and assessed as an outpatient. We passed on the Salpetriere Hospital records to staff on arrival at the American Hospital.

Stewart’s senior Doctor was Dr Gérard KHAYAT who, as with almost all the staff at the Hospital, was excellent. We would also like to especially thank Dr Milton RISVEGLIATO and the physiotherapists.

The two negative issues we need to raise are:

  1. Experience on admittance to the American Hospital.
  2. Lack of equipment to assist Stewart in transfers.

Point 1

As mentioned we did not choose the American Hospital but were told by Stewart’s health insurers, Allianz, this was the only Hospital we could use and they organised an ambulance to take us there on 14th June 2014.

We arrived late in the day, having been told the Hospital could not accept us before 6.00pm.  When the ambulance staff took Stewart, on his stretcher, to the emergency ‘reception’ (with me accompanying him) we had to wait perhaps ten minutes until we could move from the entry doors to the ‘assessment’ area where we met Dr Hanky. This doctor told us immediately that we hadn’t made a reservation and by chance it seemed there was a room available. She appeared to be annoyed and emphasised that this room would be at a cost of 3,000 euros to be paid now, plus a further 3,000 euros deposit to be held on our credit card. When I explained that our insurers, Allianz, had insisted we use this Hospital and had booked it along with the ambulance to bring us to it, she said that we should have checked that Allianz had properly reserved a room.

Sometime after this greeting, Stewart had several scans and x-rays and in between these, waiting in a room beside the doctor’s reception desk, we heard a conversation on the telephone that was quite disturbing. Dr Hanky told the caller, who seemed to be worried about the health of someone with whom he was very close, the same line we were given, ie, it will cost you 3,000 euros for one night, before costs for any treatment, in addition to a 3,000 euro deposit. She said to the caller “I don’t know if she should be admitted, I can’t tell you over the phone. There is the British/French Hospital adjacent to us, you could try them” words very similar to those. Our impression was the person calling was not welcome at the American Hospital and it seemed they certainly were going to have to find an alternative. I just hope the person in poor health was looked after somewhere.

I was told after half-an-hour or so to go to the first floor. It wasn’t made clear why, but I assumed to pay the 6,000 euros bill (of which 50% was a deposit). Happily, there I found a very helpful and professional lady at Admissions, who confirmed a reservation had been made by our insurers and they had provided a credit facility of 10,000 euros. I was made to feel welcome and felt hugely relieved.

Our experience therefore, on arriving at the American Hospital soon after 6.00pm was not at all pleasant until I could meet with the Admissions sector. It was after 9.00pm by the time we arrived in the room reserved for Stewart. At this point, it was also not a good experience but perhaps this was due to the late time in the day and a total inability of the support staff to speak English or understand my French which admittedly did not stretch to medical terms.

Point 2

More serious is the problem Stewart now has with his wrist which occurred a few days before leaving your Hospital. This injury we believe was caused when transferring from the bed to the chair causing him to fall. For most of Stewart’s stay at the Hospital he was told the hoist (used on his first full day in the Hospital) could not be found (or made available) to assist in transfers. Therefore the wonderful Hospital staff had to physically (manually) assist Stewart when transferring from his bed.

His wrist injury became progressively worse once back in Australia and finally the Royal North Shore Hospital decided he needed a plaster cast as it was considered there may have been a fine fracture.  Around ten days ago, it was finally diagnosed as ‘pseudogout’. It may be a coincidence that he developed this just after he ‘fell’ at the American Hospital – either way it is incomprehensible that the hoist was not made available every day for his transfers.

The other problem with having no hoist available meant that most days he was ‘confined’ to his bed and therefore couldn’t have the physiotherapy required for his recovery. The physiotherapists generally treated Stewart in his bed which you will understand was extremely limiting.

Stewart is now in his final days of rehabilitation at a specialist centre here in Sydney, Australia, having left the Royal North Shore Hospital ten days ago.  He still has pain in his wrist which was treated, after the plaster cast was removed, with an injection of cortisone.

We are very grateful to our insurers, Allianz, and to the excellent staff at your Hospital with the few exceptions mentioned. We hope this feedback assists future patients at your Hospital.

Yours sincerely,

Lesley MacLennan