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Drive straight to the emergency room of the hospital or first dial the number 116117 of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians to find the nearest on-call practice? Or even call the emergency services on 112? It is sometimes difficult to decide whether there is a real emergency or whether it is enough to wait until the doctor’s office has another appointment available. The emergency room is actually for people with serious or even life-threatening conditions thought – nevertheless, many come with less urgent concerns. “Among other things, this is related to misconceptions about what we have to do in the emergency room and also to poor information about which other contact points are available,” explains Peer Düsedau, doctor for emergency medicine from Hamburg, in the health magazine “Apotheken Umschau”.
Emergency room: Not a substitute for the nursing service
Patients often expect an extensive examination from the emergency services. However, the options are only used in a targeted manner depending on the symptoms. The emergency physicians are also allowed do not issue prescriptions or sick leave. Medicines are only given in quantities that will suffice until the next visit to the family doctor.
An emergency facility is also no substitute for a nursing service if the care of elderly people in need of care at home can no longer be guaranteed. “The most important decision we have to make as doctors in the emergency room is whether patients need to be admitted as an inpatient or can be discharged home,” says Duesedau. The number of people who can go home or be treated on an outpatient basis tends to be larger than the number who have to stay in the hospital.
If you are unsure who to contact, tell the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians on 116117. If a visit to the emergency room of a hospital is not necessary, writes the “Apotheken Umschau”, there are various options – depending on the urgency and severity:
- You visit the nearest emergency practice (contact points in the area are available on the Internet at or at 116117).
- The emergency medical service will send a doctor to your home.
- You make an appointment at your doctor’s office.
If rule of thumb The following applies: If you would also go to the family doctor’s practice with your complaints, dial 116117. If you are unsure, dial 112.
This report is only free for publication if the source is cited. The health magazine “Apotheken Umschau” 5B/2023 is currently available in most pharmacies. There is much more interesting health news at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Julie von Wangenheim, Head of Corporate Communications
Katharina Neff-Neudert, PR Manager
Tel.: 089/744 33-360