Things go wrong. They just do. And when that happens, you may need immediate medical help. Shanghai has one of the best — the best? — health care systems in the country, and that includes its extensive network of emergency care. We've picked out eight hospitals and private clinics that are either best-in-class, have English-speaking staff in the ER or both.
"Emergency room" in Chinese is jizhen (急诊). That should get you in the right door.
How do I get there?
If the emergency doesn't involve a lot of bodily fluids — a broken bone or a small cut, say — then a taxi or a Didi will be faster. Just don't go ruining some poor driver's backseat. Otherwise, call an ambulance (救护车, jiu hu che) by dialing 120. They speak enough English to ask if you need an ambulance.
All ambulances are run by the government's Emergency Medical Response Center and cost 30rmb within 3km and then 7rmb for each kilometer after that. Anything above just driving you to a hospital (for example if you need oxygen) will cost you extra. Payment has to be made when you're dropped off (they accept cash, WeChat or Alipay). They require that someone — anyone, a roommate, a friend, the janitor — travel with you, so if you lose consciousness or can't pay in the moment, that person can spot you. You'll have to arrange repayment yourself.
If you don't specify a hospital (like one of these on this list), you'll be taken to the closest ER.
The Big Four Chinese Public Hospitals
There are three reasons you'd pick a public hospital. First is price: unless you have insurance, private hospitals cost a pretty penny. Second, the big Chinese public hospitals are clustered downtown, while the international clinics are mostly (though not all) further afield. Third is specialization. Ruijin Hospital, for example, has an excellent burn unit.
The doctors at Chinese public hospitals have a wealth of experience but due to the high volume of patients, probably won't give you as much personal care and attention as private hospitals. Still, if you don't have insurance, or if you need to get somewhere real quick, these are excellent options.
Huashan Hospital (华山医院, huashan yiyuan) is one of China's most well-known hospitals and is mobbed during the day for its outpatient services and specialist doctors. It has an English-speaking international division on the 8th floor but that's only open from 8am-5pm. However, the local emergency room is open 24/7 and specializes in neurological conditions. That said, it handles all kinds of cases, and is smack in the middle of downtown on the corner of Wulumuqi Lu and Huashan Lu, two blocks up from the Anfu Lu strip. The entrance to the ER is on Huashan Lu a little bit west of Wulumuqi. No pediatric or OB/GYN services.
A few blocks away from Sinan Mansions, Ruijin Hospital (瑞金医院, ruijin yiyuan) is open 24/7 and has a full ER and ICU. In addition to standard inpatient and outpatient care, they specialize in trauma, cardiac emergencies, burns and acute intoxication. The emergency room has English-speaking staff.
Huadong Hospital (华东医院, huadong yiyuan) is right around the corner from Huashan Hospital and is nearly as well-known. It's still one of the biggest hospitals in Shanghai, with 44 specialized departments, a 24/7 emergency room and full ICU. No English in the ER though. Enter from Yan'an Xi Lu.
Zhongshan Hospital (中山医院, zhongshan yiyuan) has a 24/7 ER for acute trauma and other urgent medical needs, but they don't promise any English. The 96-bed facility has an ICU broken into four rooms: two comprehensive intensive care units and two with specializations, dealing with liver trauma and cardiac surgery.
The English-Speaking Private Hospitals
This is where you go if your insurance will cover it and have the time for a thirty-minute cab ride. The private hospitals usually look way nicer, have English-speaking staff and foreign doctors, and provide fawning levels of attention compared to the public hospitals. Their only downside is that most are located a little further from downtown.
Shanghai United Family Hospital (Hongqiao)
Shanghai United Family (和睦家医院虹桥, hemujia yiyuan hongqiao) is a private hospital with two branches in Shanghai. For many years, it was one of the very few private emergency rooms in Shanghai. Its Hongqiao branch has a 24/7 emergency room that can handle acute surgical emergencies, neonatal intensive care and adult intensive care and provide MRIs, ultrasounds, and X-rays. They also specialize in prenatal care and child delivery. Many a Shanghai kid was born here. Their lab and pharmacy are open 24/7, with English-speaking staff. They recently moved from their Xianxia Lu location to this one.
Jiahui International Hospital
Jiahui Health (嘉会国际医院, jiahui guoji yiyuan) is a relatively new series of private clinics providing family medicine and specialist medical services. There is one opposite Charlie's on Changshu Lu. But those clinics, while perfectly nice, pale in comparison to the massive, 500-bed international hospital Jiahui has built in Xuhui. It looks like something picked up and transplanted from, I don't know, a wealthy east coast American city, which makes sense — it's a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital. You never want to end up in the emergency room but if you do, and your insurance covers it, this 24/7 English-speaking ER is among the best in Shanghai.
Shanghai United Family Hospital (Pudong)
This is Shanghai United Family's (和睦家医院浦东, hemujia yiyuan pudong) Pudong branch. Like the Puxi branch, it handles acute surgical emergencies, neonatal intensive care and adult intensive care — but it's not 24/7. It's open daily from 5pm-9am. Try not to get hurt during office hours.
Yosemite (优仕美地医疗, youshimeide yiliao) is a new entrant in the heart of downtown that most old-timers probably don't know about. On the corner near Guyi (entrance on Fumin Lu), it does all the regular outpatient stuff but also has a 24/7 English-speaking ER. They have eight beds in their Jing'an location, and while they don't have an ICU, they do have a care unit that can deal with emergency situations. The hospital specializes in minimally invasive surgeries.
And A Note On Mental Health Emergencies
Mental health resources in Shanghai are shit and stress is high. People break. When they do, these are your options.
If it's 10pm and someone is having a mental health crisis or is suicidal, you can take them to the Shanghai Mental Health Hospital (精神卫生中心, jingshen weisheng zhongxin). It's mostly for Chinese, so it's coin toss on if there will be English-speaking staff on hand, but they will be able to stabilize patients and keep them from harm while some sort of exterior treatment or counseling can be arranged.
You can also try Shanghai United Family if you don't have someone who can translate for you. They're the best equipped of the international hospitals for mental health emergencies, though they do not have a dedicated psychiatric bed.
You can try calling Lifeline for more advice (daily, 10am-10pm), or Community Center Shanghai (Mon-Fri between 9am-5pm).