Hospitals in Germany

Sometimes it may be necessary for you to be hospitalized while in Germany. There are a number of different types of hospitals in Germany. A Universitätsklinikum (often referred to as a Uniklinik) is a state or school run hospital. They are found in most major cities. Other hospitals include non-profit institutions that may be affiliated with any number of different groups. And there are also private clinics and hospitals. German hospitals are modern, have and use the latest technology and provide top-notch medical care.

Hospitals normally accept all patients that have health insurance.

Only a doctor can authorize hospitalization for a non-emergency condition. It's possible that patients may not be treated in the hospital by the doctor who has been treating them and who referred them to the hospital. This depends on the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization and whether or not the referring doctor is a member of the hospital staff.

Germany is becoming increasingly concerned about the high cost of their health care system and, among other things measures have been introduced to cut the length of hospital stays. Nevertheless, a stay in a German hospital can be longer than stays in other countries. New mothers, for example, average six days in a German hospital compared to one or two days, barring complications, for those who stay in an American hospital.

Germans are not so concerned with privacy as are others. You probably won't be issued a gown during examinations, and there are usually no curtains around the beds. So bring a nightgown or pajamas and a bathrobe. Nor do German hospitals very often issue towels. You are expected to bring your own. Other items it is wise to bring: slippers, soap, toilet articles and a washcloth. Don't take too much, though, as storage space is tight.

Meals and mealtimes at hospitals conform to what's usual in Germany. That big, hot meal of the day is served at midday rather than evening. Breakfasts will be rolls or bread with jam, honey, meat or cheese, while suppers will generally be bread, sausages, cottage cheese and tea. Supper is usually served early, perhaps even at 4:30. You are often given a choice of menus for your meals, and unless you're on a special diet you may keep your own food and (non-alcoholic) drink.

Visiting hours are usually from about 2 to 8 p.m., and German hospitals frown on visits by small children. You can get away with it, though, as long as other patients aren't disturbed. One parent usually can spend the night with a hospitalized child.

Smoking is prohibited in patient rooms. Patient rooms usually have two to four beds, and your roommates will always be of the same sex. Depending on they type of insurance coverage you have you can be assigned a private or semi-private room.

On departing from the hospital it is customary to leave a small consideration for the nursing staff. Fruit baskets, candy or baked goods will fill the bill, as will a "thank-you" card and €5 or €10 for the "coffee fund."

For information on the hospital bill is paid, see the separate article on Paying Medical Expenses and Insurance Claims.