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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.

German Medical Vocabulary

If the old stand-by's Ich spreche kein Deutsch (I don't speak German) and Sprechen Sie Englisch? (Do you speak English?) aren't working, the following list of German words and phrases may help.


Can I have something for the pain?
Kann ich etwas gegen die Schmerzen haben?
Will it hurt?
Wird es weh tun?
Do I need stitches?
Muss ich genaeht werden?
Do I have to be admitted to the hospital?
Muss ich stationaer aufgenommen werden?


Cardiac infarction
High blood pressure / Stroke
Hoher Blutdruck / Schlaganfall
Diabetes (Zuckerkrankheit)
Infectious diseases
Asthma / Allergies
Asthma / Allergie
Hereditary diseases (e.g. hemophilia)
Erbkrankheiten (z. Z. Bluter)


Hay fever
Other allergies
Sonstige Allergien
Pneumonia / pleurisy
Lungen- / Rippenfellentzuendung
Pulmonary tuberculosis
Other diseases of the respiratory system
Sonstige Erkrankungen der Atemwege
Tendency to circulatory collapse
Neigung zu Kreislaufkollaps
High / low blood pressure
Hoher / niedriger Blutdruck
Angina pectoris/tachycardia
Herzangstsyndrom oder Herzjagen
Weak heart
Other diseases of the cardiovascular system
Sonstige Erkrankungen von Herz- und Kreislaufsystem
Gastric or duodenal ulcer / gastritis
Magen- oder Zwoelffingerdarm- geschwuer / Gastritis
Bauchspeichel- druesenentzuendun
Jaundice or liver diseases
Gelbsucht oder Leberkrankungen
Other diseases of the gastro-intestinal system
Sonstige Erkrankungen des Magen- Darm- Traktes
Kidney stones
Inflammation of the renal or urinary tract
Entzuendung der Nieren oder Harnwege
Venereal diseases
Phlebitis / thrombosis / embolism
Venenentzuendungen / Thrombose / Embolien


German measles
Chicken pox
Scarlet fever
Whooping cough
Frequent ear inflammations
Haeufige Ohrenentzuendungen
Frequent sore throats
Haeufige Halsentzuendungen
Frequent disorders of the urinary tract / bladder inflammations
Haeufige Harnwegs-affekte / Blasenentzuendungen
Convulsions with / without fever, so far ___ times
Krampfanfaelle mit / ohne Fieber, bisher ___ mal
Heart defect
The child is now on the following drugs: ________ times/daily/weekly
Derzeit werden folgende Medikamente verabreicht taeglich/woechentlich ___ mal


I have a pain here (point)
Ich habe hier Schmerzen (point)
(Terrible) back pain
(Starke) Rueckenschmerzen
I feel tired / faint
Ich fuehle mich muede / schwach
It hurts when I swallow
Ich habe Schluckbeschwerden
I can't hear very well
Ich bin schwerhoerig
I can't see very well
Ich habe Sehbeschwerden
I've had a temperature of ___ oC for ___ days
Ich habe ___oC Fieber seit ___ Tagen
I have a cold
Ich bin erkaeltet
I have a (terrible) headache
Ich habe (starke) Kopfschmerzen
I have a headache with nausea / flickering in front of my eyes
Ich habe Kopfschmerzen mit Brechreiz / Augenflimmern
I have spells of dizziness / fainting
Ich habe Schwindel- / Ohnmachtsanfaelle
I have pains in my limbs
Ich habe Gliederschmerzen
I have pains in my eyes
Ich habe Augenschmerzen
I have an earache in one / both ears
Ich habe Schmerzen in einem Ohr / beiden Ohren
I have been coughing with / without sputum for ___ days
Ich habe Husten mit / ohne Auswurf weit ___ Tagen
I am coughing up blood
Ich huste Blut
I sometimes / always have trouble breathing
Ich leide zeitweise / dauernd an Atemnot
I have breathing pains
Ich habe Schmerzen beim Atmen
I have discomfort / pressure feeling / pains in my chest
Ich leide an Unbehagen / Druckgefuehl / Schmerzen in der Brust