Emergency medical Services in Germany
During the day if you are sick or injured, you may go to your doctor (or directly to an Apotheke for minor problems). But if you get sick / get hurt at night when the doctors’ clinics and Apothekes are closed, what can you do? The following paragraphs are written in decreasing order of seriousness of illness.
In case of an emergency, you should immediately call 112*. They will have an ambulance sent to you. 112 telephone operators speak English also. However, it is only considered an emergency if there is a life threatening or serious situation. Minor pain, slight fever etc. are not considered as emergencies. 112 can also be called in emergency situations other than medical problems.
If it’s not an emergency but you are unable to go to a hospital, you can have a doctor visit you at your home. This is referred to as ärztlichen Bereitschaftsdienst. For this, you can call 116 117*. They will ask about your condition and then take your address and phone number. Here also, if your condition is such that you can somehow reach a hospital’s emergency service, they will ask you to do so. It might take several hours before the doctor reaches you depending on how busy he/she is and how far he/she was when they send them your details. The visit is covered by health insurance. You just need your insurance card. The doctor carries some basic medicine and a prescription pad with him/her.
If you are in a condition good enough to go to a hospital, you should do so. Hospitals have emergency (Notfall) service at night. Usually, there are markers at hospitals for Notfall Aufnahme which tell you where to go for the emergency service. The doctor there might give you some basic medication to ease your symptoms. Other than regular hospitals, there is also a Bereitschaftspraxis where they have different types of doctors available till 10-11pm. Search for Bereitschaftspraxis in your city. You can easily find their website and the timings of the different doctors there. Here is one example for Munich:
If all you need is some medicine, you need to go to an Apotheke. Apothekes have a night service and if someone needs medicine in the night, there is a bell you can ring and someone will come there to give you the medicine. But this is not available on all days at all Apothekes. Usually, they have a chart (which can be seen from outside) which says which Apotheke has night service on which day of the week and their address. Each one of the 4-5 Apothekes in an area offers this service on one different night of the week.
One thing to keep in mind is that medicine purchased without a prescription can be quite costly because one has to pay the full price. However, if you have a prescription, the medicines can be obtained free or with reduced costs from an Apotheke.
*emergency numbers are toll free. However, I observed that the number 116 117 couldn’t be reached from a debitel connection. If this is the case, try with some other mobile operator or a landline.
Author: Farish Huned Kagalwala