Organising doctor's visits
Are you sick or do you have a concern? In Germany you can choose your own doctor. Here we distinguish between "family doctors" and "specialists". Family doctors are general practitioners and are responsible for your general wellbeing. You should look for a permanent family doctor whom you can consult when you get sick. If necessary, he/she will refer you to a suitable specialist. These are doctors specialized in various areas, e.g. gynaecology, surgery or dermatology.
You can also consult a specialist directly, but without a "referral" you may have to pay a fee.
A good doctor will listen to you, explain why and how he will treat you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist. If you are not happy with your doctor, you may choose another one.
Make a note of your problems and the medication you are currently taking. Have you recently been under medical treatment? This is something the doctor will also need to know. You could also make a note of the questions you want to ask the doctor.
If you do not speak enough German, you should have your notes translated or take an interpreter with you. In the Doctor Atlas you may also find doctors who speak your language.
You have found a doctor! The best thing now is to phone first and make an appointment. This way, the practice can make time for you and you do not have to wait too long. Please tell the receptionist on the phone already if you are feeling very ill. In emergencies, doctors will also make house calls.
Please be sure to remember your health insurance card or your health insurance voucher. In addition, you should also take your notes (see 1). Depending on the type of treatment, it might also be useful to take your vaccination certificate, allergy certificate, x-rays, prophylaxis or bonus booklets.
Calmly explain the reason why you are visiting the doctor and the health problems you have. Be honest! In Germany, doctors are sworn to professional secrecy. This means that they may not tell anybody anything you have told them.
Feel free to ask again if you do not understand something – the doctor is there to help you! If you have doubts with regard to the treatment or the medication the doctor suggests, you can tell him. If the doctor prescribes medication, it is important that you take it according to his instructions. If you feel worse after taking the medicine, you must absolutely tell the doctor and see him again!