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Medical emergencies in Switzerland

Medical emergencies in Switzerland

It is important to know what your options are, if you need urgent medical care in Switzerland. The emergency services in Switzerland are qualified and able to assist you should you suffer an accident or illness.

Ambulance service in Switzerland

The ambulance services in Switzerland are highly proficient and will be able to provide medical care when required. Ambulances in Switzerland are usually tied to a specific hospital, or to an individual council / city. The majority of ambulance services are privately run but subsidised by the state. You can identify an ambulance by the fluorescent colour scheme or by the siren.

How do I pay for an ambulance in Switzerland?

In a medical emergency, ambulance staff have a duty of care to assist you. If the medical emergency is critical, they will only check for health insurance once the situation has stabilised. Ambulance costs are covered by your basic or supplemental health insurance and will be combined with your total bill from the hospital. If you have suffered an accident at work, then your costs will be covered by Accident & Occupational diseases insurance.

What to do in the event of a medical emergency

In the case of a medical emergency, you can call the 144 emergency number. People requiring urgent care can also visit their local hospital’s accident and emergency department (German: Notfalldienst. French: Urgencies. Italian: Pronto soccorso). If you require medical care that is not urgent, it is recommended to consult your general practitioner before you go to the hospital.

Other Swiss medical numbers 

Alternative medical services can be reached at the following numbers:

  • Toxicological information centre for poisoning cases – 145 
  • Rega Swiss Air-Rescue – 1414

People can also call 1811 or 1818 for the contact details of pharmacies, medical care and other medical services in their region.

After-hours general practitioner services in Switzerland

If you have a medical condition that you think does not require admission to hospital, and your GP practice is closed either at night or on the weekend, you can access after-hours doctors. They will be able to diagnose your illness and provide prescriptions to be filled at an emergency pharmacy. These services can be paid for directly or through your health insurance, and can provide the care you need even after dark. 

Popular emergency & after-hours doctors in Switzerland

Some of the most popular after-hours GP services are:

  • Permanence
  • Arzthaus
  • santé24 (by SWICA)

Emergency pharmacies

Each canton has its own emergency pharmacy. These pharmacies are open 24 hours a day throughout the year, including on holidays. They are able to deliver prescriptions as well as emergency medication. Their details can be found online via the SOS Pharmacie website.

Medical emergencies when abroad

If you live in Switzerland and suffer a medical emergency abroad, you are able to access your health insurance to cover the costs. If you suffer an illness while on holiday, your health insurance will pay for your medical care. Basic health insurance will cover up to the amount it would have cost to receive the treatment in Switzerland. Supplemental insurance will cover the costs several times over.

If you suffer an accident or medical emergency when working, you are entitled to be covered through Accident & Occupational diseases insurance. If you were injured in a country that does not have an effective healthcare system, you are able to access extradition flights that will return you to Switzerland for treatment.

Helicopter evacuations through Rega Swiss Air-Rescue

If you plan to go skiing in the Swiss mountains, it is important that you remember how to contact Swiss helicopter rescue or Rega Swiss Air-Rescue. These helicopters specialise in evacuating patients from hard-to-access places like ski resorts or mountain tops to hospitals in Swiss cities.

Rega Swiss Air-Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on insurance payments and patron support. Before you go skiing or snowboarding, make sure to check whether your insurance package covers Rega, and if you are not covered, consider becoming a patron of Rega through their official website.

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