This article was written specifically for Good Portugal by general practitioner Ivan Protsenko.
What is the emergency phone number?
The single emergency telephone number is 112. When calling, you must introduce yourself, describe where, what, and with whom you have happened, and give your address and a landmark. You can ask for an operator who speaks Ukrainian, Russian or English.
How to find the nearest hospital and emergency room (Serviço de urgência)?
- On the roads, there are always signs with the sign “hospital” – the letter “H” on a blue background or the inscription Hospital.
- In a Google search or on Google Maps, type hospital (hospital) or serviço de urgência (emergency room).
- Ask a local, such as a sales clerk or a waiter in a cafe; they always know if you have time to ask a question in a chat room on Telegram or Facebook.
- If you have insurance (already Portuguese or travel insurance), call the insurance company and ask.
How to find a pediatrician?
- Most private and public hospitals have an emergency room for children from birth to 17 years, and 365 days it is called urgência pediátrica or serviço de urgência de pediatria.
- There are also private pediatric clinics, which can be googled by “clínica pediátrica” (pediatric clinic) or “pediatra clínica médica” (pediatrician in a medical clinic). There is no possibility of hospitalization in clinics, and the range of services will be much smaller than in any hospital; you can come here with a sore throat, high fever, etc. But if the child is unconscious, dehydrated, or has a severe allergic reaction, it is better to go immediately to the emergency room (serviço de urgência).
- Family doctors and general practitioners (medico de família and clinico geral) also see and treat children (especially for acute illnesses), so you can go almost anywhere for help, as there are many general practitioners and family doctors in Portugal.
How to get to the hospital in an emergency?
- Call an ambulance (number 112) and drive to it.
- Come or go to the emergency room (Serviço de urgência).
- In some situations, the doctor at the hospital may send you to the emergency room with a letter; in such a case, the first two options are available.
Do I have to pay when I go to the hospital?
- In a public hospital, they treat you first and then bill you. A single visit to a doctor for an adult without hospitalization, but with an examination, X-rays, and simple tests, costs somewhere between 150 and 200 euros. For children and pregnant women, all care is free.
- In a private hospital, you are first ascertained how solvent you are, then treated, then the final bill is issued. It may be several times higher than in a public institution. There are no discounts for children or pregnant women. If you have travel or paid Portuguese insurance, find out in advance whether the insurance works with a particular hospital. Usually, the insurance will tell you where to go or (in the case of travel insurance) refer you to a doctor through the “medical assistance” service.
I’m a tourist and sick; what should I do?
- If you have a few minutes, call your insurance company. Many companies provide medical assistance services – a doctor who speaks the same language as you comes to your home. Or they refer you to a specific medical facility.
- If time is of the essence, first proceed as described above – call 112 or go yourself to any hospital.
I am a resident (asylum seeker or refugee), and I do not have a número de utente, and I am sick; what to do?
- Without a number, you can go to any of the above places. The difference is that in a public place, you will be billed for the total cost of services, while with a number, you either have to pay nothing or only a symbolic amount (taxa moderadora). Número de utente is a number in the Portuguese medical system (Sistema Nacional de Saúde, SNS), it equates residents with nationals in terms of care in Portuguese public health care.
- If you are a resident, your travel insurance may still work. If not, contact an insurance agent (there are Russian-speaking) and get yourself insured; it can save you nerves, time, and health.
I am an illegal immigrant, have no documents, and got sick. What to do?
You can ask for help in any of the above ways. Doctors do not care about your status in the country, and no one will think of turning you to the police or the migration service. You will be helped and healed if they can. And suppose they do ask where you are from or what your status is. In that case, it’s out of curiosity or because in your situation it might be useful to help you (for example, to understand where to send you next, if you might have brought some disease with you, like malaria, or to advise a social worker who will help with the documents, etc.).