Information about the hospital system and about getting medical treatment in Germany.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Is language an issue for international patients in German hospitals?

Language can be an issue - especially if it is not English.

While it is fair to say, that just about all German physicians will be able to communicate very well with patients in English - even to the point of having psychotherapeutic sessions - this will not be generally true for the other hospital staff. Nurses and administrators ususally have a training, which has not emphasized the command of foreign languages.

And in our experience, also for the physicians there can be a problem when it comes to written communications, reports etc. Of course in the big university clinics, where the medical staff is also involved in research, which includes presenting papers to the international science community, this will not be an issue. But at smaller hospitals it might take a little longer to get a report in English.

Other languages will be definitely less common, with two exceptions: Now-a-days, many physicians from the Eastern European countries can be found in German hospitals, so there will be a fair chance to find someone who can speak Russian in most hospitals - frequently also among the nursing staff. And there is a strong tradition of physicians from arab-speaking countries like Iraq, Iran, Lebanon to spend at least part of their training in Germany - and many stay. So Arabic will also be availabe in most hospitals, though not in every department.

In effect, with one of these three languages, German Hospital Service Ltd. will be able to find a hospital where an international patient will be welcomed to his understanding.

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