Other specialties, which are only offered by a few clinics, are artificial discs (“ADR”) to return or maintain full functionality of the spine, or replacement surgery in the elbow or shoulder.
Artificial knee prosthesis, partial or total hip prosthesis can be considered standard treatment options in most clinics specializing on orthopaedics or casualty surgery in Germany. Other specialties, which are only offered by a few clinics, are artificial discs (“ADR”) to return or maintain full functionality of the spine, or replacement surgery in the elbow or shoulder.
All these treatments are of interest to international patients for a number of reasons:
- The quality can be good to excellent because of high levels of expertise and competition between hospitals.
- Even patients at high ages can be offered these treatments, as modern surgical management is very sophisticated and tolerable even for frail constitutions.
- The costs, while probably not cheap by international standards, are reasonable, and the implant materials will be of excellent quality. The cost estimates which hospitals will give prior to such operations are usually very reliable, as the conditions for performing the operation are well under control.
- For most of these procedures international patients will not face any waiting lists: Every patient is welcome.
- Some of the more advanced treatments are not available in some other countries, or they have only been introduced recently, while in Germany there is a lot of experience already. An example for this is ADR: Artificial disc replacement, which was established in Germany years ago.
When choosing the clinic for your treatment, there are some considerations to keep in mind:
- How much experience with your required procedure have they got at the clinic? For some treatments, like artificial knee implantation, a quality regulation has been introduced by the government which requires, that a clinic must perform at least 300 of these operations per year in order to be permitted to continue offering them. For other procedures, it might make sense to study the quality report which each hospital has to provide, and which can be researched via internet.
- What is the qualification of the responsible physician? Is he an orthopaedic surgeon, a casualty surgeon or has he got the new certificate which combines both specialities?
- Well qualified clinicians are licensed to train assistant physicians. The number of years they have been granted to offer this training is a good indicator of the quality of the clinic and its medical spectrum.
During the time, when fear of getting blood preserves which might be contaminated in some way, all major clinics have introduced the option of having the patient’s own blood transfused. This means of course, that a patient will have to attend a number of appointments for blood donation well before the surgery date, in order to accumulate the necessary quantity of blood preserves for his treatment. However: Donating blood for centralized blood banks has a long tradition in Germany, and there is every basis to feel safe and confident with preserves that are provided by the German blood banks.
One other specialty about the German system should also be mentioned in this context: One branch of the German social security system is compulsory casualty insurance for workplace accidents. These insurance institutions, “Berufsgenossenschaften” run a number if hospitals, where, of course, the main focus is on the treatment of patients after serious accidents. In such a clinic, the surgeons who are responsible for orthopaedic medicine will usually have a lot of experience and a high level of expertise.
All this goes to show, that it is essential to have insider knowledge about the clinics and their specialties. Which is where referral specialists like German Hospital Service Ltd. come in: They can get access to all the relevant information and assist foreigners in their choice to find the best hospital. Important in this regard is, that the referral service is neutral and independent and not associated to certain clinics. German Hospital Service Ltd. is such an absolutely independent service provider.
This article was adapted from the site of German Hospital Service Ltd., a patient referral company working with different hospitals, usually in the north of Germany. In the website www.german-hospital-service.com and in the blog http://germanhospitalservice.blogspot.com, the author, Johann W. von Krause, offers a host of additional information about hospital treatment for foreigners in Germany.