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Health Emergencies for Expats in Hong Kong

Submitted: July 2013

Emergency numbers

The official emergency number in Hong Kong is 999. 112 is available on GSM mobile phones.

999 calls redirect to the Hong Kong Police Force. If you call 999 solely for an ambulance, let the Police Force know immediately and they will arrange this for you.

It is uncommon for doctors in Hong Kong to move to an emergency scene. Instead, patients are transported to a relevant hospital and possibly given First Aid in the meantime. Emergency ambulance services endeavour to provide a response within 12 minutes.

Do not let money matters jeopardise your or somebody else’s life. If you face an emergency but have any doubt, do not keep it for yourself and call 999.

If, for example, you believe you really need urgent treatment but you cannot afford it, dial 999 immediately and express your concerns. The Hong Kong Police Force should let you know the best possible course of action.

Emergency units

If your problem is serious, you must call 999 or go to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department of a public hospital. Please be aware that only 16 out of Hong Kong’s 41 public hospitals have an A&E Departments. You can check the list here.

A&E services are not free in Hong Kong. However, the HA has the power to waive fees in public hospitals, either through means-testing or through assessment of “justifiable social factors” (e.g. the patient has special expenses). See National Health Service for Expats in Hong Kong

For eligible persons, the A&E fee is HK$100 (US$ 13). Otherwise, it is HK$ 990 (US$ 130).

As health emergency services are not free, you might wish to include emergency care in your insurance policy, if applicable. See Health Insurance for Expats in Hong Kong

Triage

A&E Departments use a “Triage” system (French word for “selection”). Under Triage, your case is immediately assessed by a nurse whose role is to determine how urgent your case is. There are five classifications:

  • Critical (you are treated immediately)
  • Emergency (you are treated within 15 minutes)
  • Urgent (you are treated within 30 minutes)
  • Semi-urgent
  • Non-urgent

If you are not happy with the initial assessment and decide to leave (e.g. you are classified as non-urgent and you don’t want to wait for five hours), you are required to pay the relevant A&E fee (see above).

Dental emergencies

If you seriously require urgent dental treatment, you can go to one of Hong Kong’s 11 public dental clinics. Their services are limited to pain relief and extraction only, and you should check their opening hours. Alternatively, you should go to a private dentist. See Doctors and Hospitals for Expats in Hong Kong

 

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