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?

Family History of Illnesses (Erkrankungen in Der Familie)

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

My Previous Illnesses (Meine Vorerkrankungen)

Hay fever Heuschnupfen
Asthma Asthma
Other allergies Sonstige Allergien
Pneumonia / pleurisy Lungen- / Rippenfellentzuendung
Pulmonary tuberculosis Lungentuberkulose
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 Herzschwaeche
Other diseases of the cardiovascular system Sonstige Erkrankungen von Herz- und Kreislaufsystem
Gastric or duodenal ulcer / gastritis Magen- oder Zwoelffingerdarm- geschwuer / Gastritis
Pancreatitis Bauchspeichel- druesenentzuendun
Jaundice or liver diseases Gelbsucht oder Leberkrankungen
Gallstones Gallensteine
Other diseases of the gastro-intestinal system Sonstige Erkrankungen des Magen- Darm- Traktes
Kidney stones Nierensteine
Inflammation of the renal or urinary tract Entzuendung der Nieren oder Harnwege
Venereal diseases Geschlechtskrankheiten
Phlebitis / thrombosis / embolism Venenentzuendungen / Thrombose / Embolien

Child's Previous Illnesses (Vorerkrankungen Des Kindes)

German measlesRoeteln
Chicken poxWindpocken
Scarlet feverScharlach
Whooping coughKeuchhusten
Frequent ear inflammationsHaeufige Ohrenentzuendungen
Frequent sore throatsHaeufige Halsentzuendungen
Frequent disorders of the urinary tract / bladder inflammationsHaeufige Harnwegs-affekte / Blasenentzuendungen
Convulsions with / without fever, so far ___ timesKrampfanfaelle mit / ohne Fieber, bisher ___ mal
Heart defectHerzfehler
The child is now on the following drugs: ________ times/daily/weeklyDerzeit werden folgende Medikamente verabreicht taeglich/woechentlich ___ mal

My Present Symptoms (Meine Gegenwaertigen Beschwerden)

I have a pain here (point)Ich habe hier Schmerzen (point)
(Terrible) back pain(Starke) Rueckenschmerzen
I feel tired / faintIch fuehle mich muede / schwach
It hurts when I swallowIch habe Schluckbeschwerden
I can’t hear very wellIch bin schwerhoerig
I can’t see very wellIch habe Sehbeschwerden
I’ve had a temperature of ___ oC for ___ daysIch habe ___oC Fieber seit ___ Tagen
I have a coldIch bin erkaeltet
I have a (terrible) headacheIch habe (starke) Kopfschmerzen
I have a headache with nausea / flickering in front of my eyesIch habe Kopfschmerzen mit Brechreiz / Augenflimmern
I have spells of dizziness / faintingIch habe Schwindel- / Ohnmachtsanfaelle
I have pains in my limbsIch habe Gliederschmerzen
I have pains in my eyesIch habe Augenschmerzen
I have an earache in one / both earsIch habe Schmerzen in einem Ohr / beiden Ohren
I have been coughing with / without sputum for ___ daysIch habe Husten mit / ohne Auswurf weit ___ Tagen
I am coughing up bloodIch huste Blut
I sometimes / always have trouble breathingIch leide zeitweise / dauernd an Atemnot
I have breathing painsIch habe Schmerzen beim Atmen
I have discomfort / pressure feeling / pains in my chestIch leide an Unbehagen / Druckgefuehl / Schmerzen in der Brust