High quality care!
The first important point about the German Hospital is the name of it. The word Hospital in German is Krankenhaus. You will sometimes see Klinik. You might also come across the German word "Lazarett", it designates a military hospital.
Because the words Krankenhaus and Klinik do not start with an "H" you will NOT find a hospital by looking for this sign on the side of the road.
In Germany, the sign for hospital ( Krankenhaus ) is that of a red cross with sometimes the word Kilinik associated with it.
The only roadsigns that you will see with a big capital "H" on it is for "Halte" and it refers to stops for the public transportation, such as bus and tram stops. And these signs are not red, so it should not confuse you with the German hospital red-cross sign.
Now that you know what to look for when searching for a German Hospital, here are a few facts about them.
There are three kinds of German Hospital: the public state hospitals (most common), the non-for-profit or charitable ones (such as red-cross or religious organisations such as Malteser) which account for about 38%, and the private for profit ones (around 7% of the total). You can also find University clinics in cities with universities. These clinics are open to out-patients.
All hospitals (except the private ones) are open to all insured patients and, except in the case of an emergency, it is a doctor that will refer the patient to the hospital. Once there, it is the doctors of the hospital that will look after the patient and NOT the one that had asked for the transfer. In other words it is your doctor who asks for your transfer but, unlike in North America, it is someone else who will look after you once you're in a German hospital.
You should bring proof of your health insurance with you, especially if you are NOT part of the State health insurance. Although, it is very improbable that a German hospital will refuse you access (especially in case of emergency), the hospitals are not free: you (and your insurance) have to pay for every treatment received. On the other, if you are covered by the general social security health insurance, the bills are going to be taken care of by this insurance. But, you might still have to pay a minimum fee per day for a room.
But, if you have an independent private insurance, you should check with them to know what kind of coverage you have before going to a hospital. You will have to pay the bills and then apply for a refund. Another point is that you will probably end up with many different bills: one for each department or kind of treatment you had, such as radiology, cardiology, nursing staff, etc.
In case of emergency, it is possible that even foreigners will be covered by the state insurance, depending on the international agreements between Germany and the foreigners' country.
As I mentioned in the Health Care page the German healthcare is very efficient and you should expect high quality care from it. Germans are also more advance in some domains than most other countries in the world and they use up-to-date treatments and procedures.
On the other hand, there are a few differences between German hospital and North American ones.
First of all, most beds do not have curtains around them and it is possible that you won't be issued a gown for examinations (this varies from one place to the next.) For example, my "Mann" was offered one in a private clinic, while the husband of a friend did not have one in a hospital. And both places are only a few kilometers apart, in the same region. So, you might want to bring pajamas or sleepwear with you, as well as a towel, as few hospitals issue them, either. You might also want to bring some toiletries and slippers. But do not bring too much: the lockers are small and space is limited.
As in North America and most developed countries, meals are included in German Hospitals. But the biggest meal is lunch, not the dinner, and the dinner ("supper" for some) might be quite early (4:30 pm).
The length of stay in German Hospitals is also usually longer than in North America and young children are not exactly welcom during visiting hours, as they can disturb other patients. So, if you want to have permission to bring yours back during visit-hours, make sure that they do NOT bother anyone else. Speaking of visit hours, they are usually between 2 and 8 pm. Parents can stay overnight with their sick child.
It is not permitted to smoke in a patient's room, you now have to go outside of the building to smoke, as with all public or governement owned buildings.
There are usually 2 to 4 patients per room (same sex), and private rooms are available for a fee (you might be eligible for one if you have a private health insurance: make sure to ask your insurer about it). These fees are regulated by the government and are in the order of 80.-€ to 100.-€ per night for the single-bed room, and of 50.-€ to 70.-€ for the double-bed room.
Other costs while staying at a hospital include: the use of the telephone and internet access (which is being offered by more and more hospitals). On the other hand, the use of TV (available in just about all hospitals) is usually included.
The last tidbit of info that I can provide you with, is that it is usual to leave a tip or a small gift, such a fruit basket, for the nurses when departing from the hospital. A thank you card will also be welcomed. Gute Besserung! (Get well soon!)
The emergency number for the Ambulance, "Krankenwagen" (and the fire brigade) is 112 and for the police 110.
You can dial free of charge from any public phone. In an emergency on a major road (motorway, highway, secondary road), look at the white kilometre stones or posts by the side of the road for arrows pointing in the direction of the nearest emergency telephone.
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