Everything you need to know about emergency care in Norway
Sooner or later, all of us have to use the emergency care system of the country we’re living in. Before that time comes, make sure to familiarise yourself with how emergency care in Norway works with the help of this guide.
Before contacting emergency assistance in Norway, ask yourself the following question: Is the situation at hand life-threatening or not?
If it’s a non-life-threatening emergency outside of the working hours of your general practitioner (GP), then you should contact the Norwegian out-of-hours medical service, the emergency clinic (legevakt in Norwegian), at the free number 116 117.
Alternatively, if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation – or if someone close to you is in danger – you should contact the medical emergency number in Norway, 113, and the service will send over an ambulance to your location.
In this article, we will cover what to expect in each of the two cases, examples for each situation, services offered, and other useful information related to emergency care in Norway.
Non-life-threatening emergencies (call 116 117)
Feeling very ill on days when your GP isn’t working or outside their office hours? In such situations, reach out to the Norwegian out-of-hours medical service at 116 117, which is open all day long, every day of the week.
After calling the legevakt hotline, you will be put through to the closest out-of-hours medical service provider in your area. While different out-of-hours medical centres across the country are organised in different ways, you will always find at least one doctor on duty at all times in every municipality.
Expect the operator to ask for your name, address, reason for calling, previous illnesses, and a list of any medications you might be taking. Based on the information you provide, the operator will decide whether you’re able to reach the out-of-hours medical service on your own or if you need an ambulance to transport you there.
According to Helse Norge, the state-supported website that provides information on health-related issues in Norway, examples of situations in which you should contact the out-of-hours medical service include moderate breathing difficulties, high fever, suspected complications in pregnancy, acute illness, lacerations and cuts, and suspected fractures – to mention just a few.
Once you arrive at the out-of-hours medical service location, notify the on-site staff. You will likely need to use a ticket-based queuing system, so take a ticket and wait for your number to pop up on the screen – or for on-site staff to call your name.
Several factors affect the length of the waiting time, including the severity of your condition and the queue length on a given day. When you enter the doctor’s office, you will get to inform the doctor about your condition, followed by an examination and treatment.
Note that the out-of-hours medical service is not free; you will usually need to pay a user fee. For additional information on your rights and obligations as an international citizen in Norway, consult this Helse Norge website.
You can find more information about the out-of-hours medical service in Oslo here.
More information about the out-of-hours medical service in Bergen can be found here.
Life-threatening emergencies (call 113)
On the other hand, in the unfortunate event of a life-threatening emergency such as an accident or serious condition, you’ll need to contact the medical emergency number, 113. Helse Norge recommends always trying to get in touch with one’s GP – even in urgent situations.
Remember that the 113-line workers work only in English or Norwegian, so you’ll need to be able to communicate the situation at hand in one of those two languages.
According to Helse Norge, examples of situations in which you should contact the emergency 113-line include the onset of facial paralysis, arm paralysis or language disorders, sudden or unexplained loss of balance, unconsciousness or reduced consciousness, chest pains lasting more than five minutes, unexpected discomfort in the chest area, general malaise and nausea, and others.
User fees that apply
In Norway, you will have to pay a fee according to set rates (user fee) when you visit the out-of-hours medical service, the GP, or the specialist healthcare service as an adult.
While the exact fee varies, it often ranges from 150 to 350 kroner. Note that you won’t have to pay any fee to be admitted to a hospital.
Furthermore, if you cannot pay the user fee, you will still receive help on-site if your condition is considered urgent.