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Emergency Abroad: 25 Must-Know Medical Phrases All Brits Should Learn

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English is the most widely spoken language in the world, but not everyone can speak it. 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 various 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, the GHIC or EHIC identity card entitles you to state-provided medical treatment for British travellers.

However, research shows that only 39% of the population in France says that they can speak English. Therefore, some of the common words and phrases you may need in a medical situation include:

  • Salle d’attent- waiting room
  • J’ai de la fièvreI- have a fever.
  • Appelez une ambulance!- Call an ambulance!
  • S’il vous plaît prenez place- Please have a seat.
  • 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 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. However, some handy words and phrases below help you get by in a Spanish hospital.

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


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

Under the German healthcare system, you can choose your doctor, and many can speak at least some basic English. However, for those struggling with the German language barrier, below are five handy phrases:

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


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

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

  • Operazione- surgery
  • Radiografia- X-ray
  • Paziente malato- sick patient
  • Cerotto adesivo- band aid
  • Pronto soccorso- emergency room


Finally, Turkey is becoming a trendy destination for UK travellers, with around 45.7 million annual visitors; it always offers sun, sea, and delicious food.

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

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

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