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La salud


There are 2 types of health care services in Spain: Social Security (Seguridad Social) and private health services.

The public health service in Spain is pretty comprehensive, with medical centres dotted around across the country, many of which also offer emergency medical staff too, although certain emergencies should be directed to hospitals, of which there is usually at least one in every major urban area.

If you are European and not staying in Spain on a permanent basis then the blue European health insurance card is accepted as proof of your right to medical attention if required. If you are from a non-European country and your country doesn't have any reciprocal agreement, then you will need private insurance to cover the duration of your stay in Spain.

If you are staying in Spain for a while, you may want to look for some cursos de español so that you are able to express yourself appropriately in case of a medical emergency or a standard visit to the doctor. Or you can browse our Spanish vocabulary list of medical words.

English WordSpanish WordPronunciation
pharmacy/drugstore/chemistla farmaciala far-mah-thee-yah
herbal pharmacyla parafarmaciala parrah-far-mah-thee-yah
pharmacistla farmacéutica/ola far-mah-theeyou-tick-ah
doctor (male or female)el médicoel meh-dickoh
doctor (male)el doctorel dock-torr
doctor (female)la doctora la dock-torrah
family doctorel médico de cabecerael meh-dickoh de cah-bay-thehrah
nursela enfermerala en-fur-mehrah
health centre / doctor's surgeryel centro de saludel thentroh de sah-lood
healthla saludla sah-lood
hospitalel hospitalel o-spih-tal
ambulancela ambulanciala am-bue-lan-theeyah
person who would give injections (old fashioned)el practicanteel prack-tee-cantey
tabletla pastillala pass-teeyah
tabletel comprimidoel com-pree-meedoh
the pillla píldorala pill-doorah
painel dolorel doll-or
I'm in pain / it hurtsme duelemeh dwelley
My head hurtsme duele la cabezameh dwelley la ca-baythah
to itchpicarpee-car
to inject (needle)pincharpin-char
bloodla sangrela san-gray
consulting roomla consultala con-sooltah
(booked) appointmentla cita previala theeter preh-vee-ah
prescriptionla recetala reh-thettah
doctor's note signing you off sickla bajala bakhah
doctor's note signing you fit to workel altael alt-ah
broken boneel hueso rotoel wessoh rotoh
vaccinela vacunala ba-coon-ah
drugla drogala drogg-ah
medicationel medicamientoel meh-di-cah-mentow
medicinela medicinala meh-dee-theenah
dosagela dosisla doss-iss
to be pregnantestar embarazadaes-tarr em-bah-rah-thahdah
to breatherespirarress-peeh-rar

Many foreigners are often surprised to see so many pharmacies open in a town and in many areas, as there are many drug stores that are open 24 hours. Although medications in Spain are available over the counter - including antibiotics - this does not mean that the waiting time to get to see a doctor will be particularly fast. As the Spanish learned in Valencia, generally you need to make a doctors appointment a minimum of 2 days before you want the actual appointment, unless it is an emergency.

If you work in Spain and you are sick, you will need to request a baja from the doctor. Depending on the company you work for, you may not need a certificate if you are off sick for up to 3 days, however it is recommended to justify your claim of being unfit to work. When you are well enough to work again, the doctor will give you the alta which certifies that you are medically fit to return to work.