Doctors and Hospitals
Lists of Doctors and Hospitals in Italy
Italian National Health Service
The Italian National Health Service (INHS) was established in 1978 with the objective stated under article 32 of the Italian Constitution to safeguard the health of each patient as an individual asset and a community interest. It subsequently underwent significant adjustments and changes.
Patients are free to choose between public hospitals and private hospitals. Public hospitals normally provide both emergency and non-emergency services. At public hospitals, patients may receive emergency services at no cost or upon payment of a limited contribution, depending on the public hospital’s policy. Non-emergency services provided by public hospitals are subject to a fee.
Public hospitals’ quality standards may be different from those of American hospitals. However, Italian public hospitals must meet quality standards and criteria established by Italian law and are normally equipped for all kinds of emergency services.
Private hospitals do not normally have emergency rooms. To be admitted to a private hospital, it is usually necessary to make arrangements with the hospital’s administration or directly with a doctor affiliated with the private hospital prior to being admitted.
Private hospitals normally have higher fees than public hospitals. Patients in private hospitals are generally required to pay fees upfront before leaving the hospital. (Patients with insurance may subsequently seek reimbursement from their insurance companies.) Some private hospitals may be “accredited” which means that fees can be reimbursed by the Italian National Health Service if the patient is an official resident in Italy and affiliated with the National Health System.
Medical personnel working in Italy are not required to speak English. However, some doctors may be able to communicate in English.
For information about emergency services in Italy please see the Italian Health Ministry website
Shipping Medication from the United States to Italy
Under Italian law, the importation of medication into Italy is strictly regulated. Italian customs and health authorities generally clear an incoming shipment of medication only upon presentation of a statement signed by a physician licensed in Italy, certifying:
- that the medication is essential for the patient, in that the patient would be put in a life-threatening situation without the medication, and
- that there is no substitute or equivalent medication available on the Italian market.
Entering Italy with Medication for Personal Use
Travelers entering Italy with medication, except for narcotic drugs, psychotropic and doping substances, are not generally required to abide by any specific Italian regulation. However, customary practice dictates that for amounts which far exceed those sufficient for 30 days of treatment, Italian health and customs authorities request travelers to show a doctor’s prescription.
Travelers carrying narcotics drugs for personal medical use must have a medical certificate drawn up by the competent state health authority prior to their departure. Failure to do this, may result in the confiscation of the narcotic drugs by the customs’ authorities.
Should travelers have any medical issues or questions regarding medicine while staying in Italy, they should contact one of the English speaking doctors available on this website.
Medical Escorts and Medical Evacuation
When an American citizen becomes ill in Italy and requires assistance to fly back to the US, he/she could hire a medical escort. Generally, when a medical escort is hired, a physician with basic medical equipment accompanies the patient on board a commercial airline flight. Costs can vary from 3,000 to 6,000 US dollars. American citizens seeking a medical escort could consult with the physicians or hospitals on this list to see about hiring a medical escort.
If the patient requires additional assistance, he/she may decide to be medically evacuated and hire an air ambulance service. An air ambulance is an aircraft that gives immediate medical assistance in case of emergencies. Each air ambulance is normally equipped with medical equipment along with specialized medical personnel to care for the patient’s needs. Family members are usually allowed to accompany the patient. For a listing of air ambulances, please see the “Country Specific Information – Medical Insurance” webpage on the State Department website.
If an American citizen does not need medical assistance to return on a commercial flight, but is not able to use a normal seat inside the aircraft, a few commercial airline companies departing from Italy to the US (Alitalia, Air France and KLM) provide a commercial stretcher service. Costs depend on the number of seats required to provide the service. Americans should contact the airlines directly for additional information.
For more information, please see the “Medical Information for Americans Abroad” webpage on the State Department website.