French and US hospital technologies are compared using directional input distance functions. The aggregation properties of the directional distance function allow comparison of hospital industry-level performance as well as standard firm-level performance with regard to productive efficiency. In addition, the underlying constituents of efficiency - in the short run, congestion and technical inefficiency, and in the long run, scale inefficiency - are analysed by decomposing the overall measure. By virtue of using the directional distance function, it is also possible to obtain an estimate of a lower bound on allocative inefficiency. It is found that French and US hospitals use quite different technologies. Long run scale inefficiencies cause most of the French hospitals' inefficiency, while short run technical inefficiency is the main source of overall productive inefficiency in the US hospitals.