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If you’re sick or injured and going to the hospital, not knowing what Japanese hospitals are like can make you nervous. The following explains the procedure when visiting a hospital for the first time.
Some hospitals are large, and others are small.
For mild illnesses or injuries, visit a smaller hospital. Small hospitals are also called iin (doctor’s offices), shinryojo (medical offices), and kurinikku (clinics). You can also visit these facilities for advice about health concerns.
For a more detailed diagnosis, as well as when you need surgery or hospitalization, go to a large hospital. When visiting large hospitals, take a letter called a shokaijo (referral) with you.
A referral is a letter written by a doctor at another hospital requesting a doctor at a large hospital see you for diagnosis. It contains information about your illness or injury.
Before visiting a large hospital, visit a small hospital to get a referral from a doctor there. If you go to a large hospital without a referral, your treatment will be more expensive.
There are a variety of different departments at hospitals. Which one to go to is determined by the location of your problem.
The main types of departments are as follows.
Go to this department when you have a cold, stomachache, or your physical condition is poor in a general sense.
Go to this department if you are injured or need surgery.
Go to this department if you have broken a bone or have pain in areas like your lower back or knees.
Go to this department if you have a problem with your eyes.
Go to this department if you have a problem with your ears, nose, or throat.
Go to this department for skin illnesses.
Go to this department to get treatment for cavities.
At large hospitals, there are many different departments. If you’re not sure which one to go to, ask at the reception desk.
At small hospitals, appointments usually aren’t needed. Some hospitals require you to make an appointment in advance. Either call or check the hospital website to check.
When visiting a hospital for the first time, bring the items below.
If you forget your insurance card, you will have to pay a lot of money for treatment.
Many hospitals require payment in cash.
If possible, bring the medicine with the box or bag it came in.
You need to bring a referral when going to a large hospital.
At the reception desk, say hajimete desu (it’s my first time) and give the receptionist your health insurance card.
You will be given a monshinhyo (medical questionnaire). A medical questionnaire is a sheet of paper for writing medical information such as your physical condition, past illnesses and injuries, and allergies.
After filling in the medical questionnaire, give it to the receptionist. Next, wait in the waiting room.
A Shinsatsu (medical examination) refers to a sick or injured person seeing a doctor. When the hospital staff call your name, enter the examination room.
The doctor will ask you questions and take a look at your body. The doctor will also perform tests and treatments you may need.
After your examination is over, return to the waiting room and wait.
When the hospital staff call your name, you will be given you’re health insurance card, a patient registration card, and a shohosen (prescription: a piece of paper with information about the medicine you need written on it).
After you pay the bill, you will receive a ryoshusho (receipt: a piece of paper certifying payment).
Also make sure to check whether you need to make an appointment for saishin (returning for a follow-up examination).
Go to a pharmacy and give the staff the prescription you received at the hospital.
Pay the bill and receive your medicine and a receipt.
Please do not throw away receipts from the hospital and pharmacy. For people who pay a lot of money at hospitals in a single month, some money may be refunded in some cases. People who pay more than 100,000 yen for hospital services in a single year may have their income tax reduced that year.
If you don’t understand Japanese well, bring someone with you to the hospital who does. You can also look for hospitals with doctors and staff who speak foreign languages.
Webpages where you can find consultation services to ask for help when you are looking for a hospital where the staff understand foreign languages.
June 2019, Tips for Tokyo Life
“Consultation Services for Various Problems” Japanese version
June 2019, Tips for Tokyo Life
“Consultation Services for Various Problems” English version
This medical questionnaire is written in 18 languages. It will be useful for explaining your illness or injury to the doctor in your own language.
|Multilingual Medical Questionnaire (International Community Hearty Konandai / Kanagawa International Foundation)|
If you want the doctor to be especially careful of certain things for religious or cultural reasons, tell the hospital staff before your examination.
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