3 things to be prepared for when going to a doctor in Germany

  1. Be prepared to wait. Of course, it all depends on a city and a hospital you go to. I have a private insurance in Germany and I have been to both, private medical offices and a local university hospital. As a rule, I call a doctor’s office to make an appointment. Usually, I am told that there is an appointment available in 2-4 weeks.Thatโ€™s not too bad in comparison to some other countries. What I find frustrating is that when I am told that the doctor will see me in 4 weeks at 12.30pm, I expect that it will happen at 12.30pm. That is not necessarily true. I have waited for a doctor for two and a half hours once! I was not the only one waiting for a long time. Other patients complained too. It seemed that there was a 1 hour lunch break, but our appointments were scheduled anyway.On average, I wait for a doctor for 50 min.Last month, I had an operation and waited in a hall for about 2 hours. Appointment time is treated funny in Germany. Do not expect perfect punctuality. I am talking about the non-emergency cases, though. So, have a book or something else to entertain you while waiting.
  2. Be prepared to speak German (‘surprise’) Very often, if you ask a German person if he/she speaks English the answer is ‘I speak a little bit of English’. The reason why I do not want to see private doctors anymore is that I have had a so-so experience with the very first private doctor I have seen in Germany. She switched to German even though I asked if she could speak English and she did agree to speak English to me. Putting that aside, she was trying to persuade me getting some new pills I did not want. As another doctor confirmed later, it is better not to switch the pills I take.Now, I can understand better German, but I still feel more comfortable with the fact that I can ask a question in English when I do not understand something 100 percent.Sometimes, doctors speak English with me first, but then switch to German, assuming I understand them. As I was lying on a surgery table under local anesthesia, I was happy I understood what was going on around me when doctors and nurses were speaking German.

    Yesterday, I had to pay a visit to the doctor without making an appointment beforehand. I had some problems with my eyes and chose to see a private ophthalmologist close by. ‘Hello! Excuse me, do you speak English?’ I asked the receptionist. ‘No, I do not. Sorry’ was her answer. The doctor did not speak English either. I understood most of the things he said to me in German, but that was challenging. I have never talked about retinal scan in German before. Ideally, take your German partner or a good German friend with you, if you have troubles at the doctor’s office. Yesterday my waiting time was 30 min only! Hurray!

  3. Always mention if you have a private insurance. Print out and take your insurance with you when seeing a doctor first time. I took mine with me just in case and I was asked to give it a receptionist to make copies.Stay healthy!
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4 thoughts on “3 things to be prepared for when going to a doctor in Germany

  1. Thank you for these tips! I want to go for a regular health check-up, and am not sure if my German is ready for medical appointments. Did you eventually find a doctor who is comfortable with speaking in English?

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    • You are very welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did not find such a doctor, but I guess I was not really looking for it. We are in Germany after all. Some time later I plan to see an American dentist, though.:) I hope you will have a positive experience and even if you cannot communicate with the doctor in English, he or she will try to speak German in a simplified way. Plus, I think you will have better chances than me in Berlin. ๐Ÿ™‚

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