Primary health care services are usually your first contact point in Croatian health care system. You will get primary health care from:
- general physician (family doctor) in your local health center (Croatian: “Dom zdravlja”),
- dentist (also at health center, or private practice that has a contract with public health insurance fund)
- pediatrician for children,
- gynecologist for women.
You do not need a referral to visit a primary care physician, however, you usually need to make an appointment (by phone or in person). If you get sick suddenly, you can go to your doctor’s office without making an appointment, in which case you will have to wait for your turn.
You should seek emergency medical services (Croatian: HITNA POMOĆ) only in cases when your life may be threatened or you can have severe health consequences.
Emergency medical service in Croatia is available 24 hours per day all week and during holidays.
For emergency medical services you should call 112 or 194.
When making such emergency call you will need to:
- introduce yourself,
- tell them what happened,
- who needs help,
- what is your location.
It is important to stay calm and carefully listen to instructions. After you make the call, keep the phone line clear in case emergency team would have to call you back.
Your primary health care physician, usually your general or family doctor, decides if you need some additional tests (for example in laboratories) or further examinations. He/she will give you a referral to specialist or for laboratory tests. This referral is called “UPUTNICA” in Croatian.
Specialist health care services are provided by making an appointment only. Usually your general physician makes the appointment and you should go to the specialist on a specified date and time. In case you wish to be examined by a physician of certain gender (male or female), you need to mention this when making such appointment.
For some examinations and specialist treatments, unfortunately, there are long waiting lists in Croatia. It is common to wait for several months for some examinations. Croatians have to wait that long as well. However, if your health condition requires that you are examined quickly, you will be given a priority.
If you need to be treated in the hospital you will get an appointment and your general physician will give you a referral.