What if I need to go to the hospital in Sweden?

I guess one of the biggest fears about living abroad is to get sick or having to go to the hospital. Just too much burocracy, having to explain your pain in a different language and getting medicine. And I bet that is the biggest worry of many parents haha So this was definitely an experience that I didn’t want to go through. But I wasn’t that lucky.

Tuesday night (04/10), I felt a really bad pain in my lower back. Like REALLY bad. The thing is that almost a year ago, still in Brazil and one month before coming to Sweden, I experienced the same pain, just in a higher level. It turned out to be a very bad urinary infection that came all the way up to my kidneys (that’s why the back pain). And it was the same pain.

So here it was the situation that I wanted to avoid in two years, having to go to the hospital in a different country. I knew that because I’m staying in the country for more than one year, I get the same rights to the hospital as a Swedish citizen. Not sure, but I guess if you stay less than a year you need to pay for a health insurance apart. Anywayyyys, time to face reality, so of course, to make it easier for you, I will make a list of my steps.

Step 1: Call 1177

This is the number of the Healthcare Guide, a service offered here in Sweden. You can get advice, information and e-service for health and healthcare. So yes, you call, they answer, you explain what you’re feeling and they give you advice about what to do. In my case, I wanted to know if I really had to go to the hospital. A lady picked up, I gave her my Swedish number (personnummer) and right away she said I needed a doctor’s appointment and that she was going to get it for me. In a 20 minute call, I got a doctor’s appointment at 18:30 on the same day.

Step 2: Get to the Hospital

The hospital was located in the city center. I passed by that building so many times and now I was inside it (they had a pretty good view from the city haha so between the pain I took some pictures). I had to get a number and wait for my turn. Talked to the lady at the reception (all in English) and had to pay a fee of 250 SEK, that even Swedish citizens would have to pay. She also asked for my name and could find my appointment with the doctor.


Step 3: Talk to the doctor

After waiting for a while, time to talk to the doctor! I thought it was going to be super scary, but no, he was super nice and explained everything in English to me. Send me to another room so they could get my blood sample, I waited a little bit and the results came right after (in Brazil it takes a while – like hours or days – for the results to be ready). He analyzed, explained that it was an uncomplicated infection, that I should take some antibiotics and everything would be ok.

Step 4: Get your medicine

I asked the doctor for the prescription paper (that’s how it’s done in Brazil!) but not in Sweden! The prescription information is on my personnummer he said, so I just needed to go to the pharmacy, give my ID and get my medicine. That’s exactly what I did and no need for paper or not understanding the doctor’s penmanship haha It was super easy!

A few extra facts:

  • The hospital staff did felt a little bit insecure about speaking in English (although everyone tried and started like that), but having my boyfriend with me, to speak Swedish with them was a must. So, good tip is to go to the doctor’s with someone that can speak Swedish (just in case!)
  • I’m super scared of needles, so when the doctor said I needed to do a blood sample, I was almost dying. But no need for that: they take blood samples from your finger! With a small click, they get the sample and all done.
  • Hospitals smell the same in every country haha
  • In the end, my antibiotics and painkillers, costed 250 SEK at the pharmacy. Not cheap, but also not crazy expensive in my opinion.

So I thought it was good to explain to you guys what happens when you need to go to the Doctor’s in Sweden, I think it’s really good information. However, I expect to be far away for that place for a really long time now and I hope you don’t need it too!


Written by Marina

06 Oct 2016