If you have an accident, a serious illness, or you are in need of an operation in the Netherlands, you are likely to find yourself in a Dutch Hospital. This can be frightening for expats, when they do not speak the language, and are unfamiliar with Netherlandish hospital protocol. To set your mind at rest, and learn what you are in store for, read through this page. It will explain what you and your family can expect from your hospital visit, and how you can prepare for it.
DUTCH HOSPITALS: The Basics
There are many hospitals in the Netherlands. Here is a little bit of general information about them:
- There are eight University hospitals in Holland
- Many other Dutch hospitals are run by a community or a religious organization
- If you need some sort of specialist treatment, be sure to ask your GP whether there is a hospital that specializes in your condition. It may be useful to read more about visiting a Dutch medical specialist as well
- Unfortunately, for certain types of surgery, waiting lists can be quite long
Admittance to Hospital in NL
Unlike when you visit a specialist, you will be expected to go over your entire medical history when you are admitted to a Dutch hospital. This is even more likely if you are there to have an operation. Therefore, as we mentioned in our essential checklist for moving to the Netherlands, it is a good idea to have your medical records in order, and on your person, when you are admitted. This way, you can give your doctors completely accurate information about your medical background.
Repeating your History
Be prepared to have to go over your health story as many as three times! The following people will need to know all about it:
- The admitting doctor
- The anaesthesiologist
- The surgeon who will be operating you
It is crucial that you tell every person who treats you about any allergies to medication you have.
DUCTH HOSPITAL ROOMS
Here is what you should be prepared for, when it comes to Dutch hospital rooms and beds:
- Do not assume that you will have a private room during your hospital stay
- You could be offered a double room, or a six-bed room
- The rooms might be gender neutral, so you could find yourself sharing a room with patients of the opposite sex
- Dutch hospital roommates can be quite chatty. So, if you have your curtains closed a lot of the time, they may be a little disappointed
- Dutch hospital roommates may well be curious about where you are from, and keen to tell you what an excellent country you have chosen to live in
- Most Dutch hospitals allow you to have your own telephone line
- Typically, Dutch hospital beds come with a television set above them. If you choose to use it, you will be given headphones, and charged a daily fee
Staying Overnight in Hospital
It is wise to bring the following items with you, if you will be staying in the hospital overnight:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Other essential toiletries
- Your prescription medicines
DUTCH CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS
While all Dutch hospitals have children’s wards, there are also several excellent children’s hospitals throughout the Netherlands. If your child needs to be admitted to hospital, have a discussion with your GP about whether it would be best to send them to a children’s hospital, or a regular hospital. Here are a few facts about children’s hospitals:
- They put a lot of effort into keeping their young patients entertained
- Many help their long-term patients to keep up with their school work
- Again, do not forget to take your child’s medical records with you when he or she is admitted! The doctors will need to know about all their previous illnesses, and which immunizations they have had
LODGING FOR THE RELATIVES
It can be a great comfort to have your relatives nearby for support when you are in hospital. Luckily, many Dutch hospitals, and particularly children’s hospitals, can accommodate them. This service is especially valuable if, for example, you are nursing a baby that still needs to be hospitalized.
Ronald McDonald Houses in NL
If your own child becomes seriously ill, you may be able to use a Ronald McDonald house. RMHC is a fantastic charity which helps support families with sick children, and keep them close together.
Do not forget to check the visiting hours! They are different in every hospital, and some Dutch hospitals can be very strict about enforcing them.