The majority of patients do not know their rights



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Over 61 percent of Germans do not know their patient rights at the doctor or hospital. The Federal Ministry of Health is planning a new patient rights law and plans to expand individual laws.

According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, over 61 percent of Germans do not fully know their rights at the doctor or hospital. The Federal Government wants to pass a simplified patient rights law in order to make individual laws more understandable and compliant. In addition, individual legal situations are to be enforced against the resistance of the medical association.

Germans are known in almost all areas of life for knowing their rights and asserting their financial rights comprehensively. Apparently, this knowledge does not apply to patient rights for doctors or clinics. According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, around 61 percent of Germans have no precise idea of ​​the legal situation with doctors and hospitals. For most, the central legal situation in medical care is a foreign word. This is the result of a nationwide survey of 1,800 people, which was presented in Berlin on Friday.

The results of the study in detail: According to the survey, 95 percent of those questioned stated that they were entitled to be able to choose the doctor freely. However, only about 76 percent of the participants knew that the free choice also applies to clinics. 70 percent of those questioned knew that the treating doctor was not allowed to inform relatives about the state of health without the patient's consent. More than half of the study participants were not sure whether the doctor actually always has to tell the truth. And 40 percent said they could get euthanasia from their doctor. The latter statement is not one of the established patient rights in Germany and is also not up for debate.

Ignorance of the legal situation often causes fear of disadvantage The ignorance of people about the general legal situation apparently causes a great fear among most of the participants to actually exercise the corresponding rights against hospitals and doctors. Well over ten percent of the respondents stated that exercising patient rights could result in significantly worse treatment by the doctor. Almost 39 percent said they thought such a restriction was possible, at least with some doctors. 30 percent also said that they feared to be portrayed as know-it-alls or troublemakers afterwards. Over 60 percent said a doctor would likely treat the patient more unkindly after claiming rights. Do the details correspond to personal experiences or is it rather an expression of subjective fears? According to the survey, significantly more sick than healthy people fear that the doctor will treat them worse after a complaint. However, to be portrayed as know-it-all fear significantly more people with statutory health insurance than private patients.

Federal government plans patient rights law In the course of the survey, the black and yellow federal government announced that it would pass a simplified patient rights law. The draft law is to be discussed next year at the latest and then adopted in the Bundestag. The patient representative Wolfgang Zöller (CSU) wants to present the first draft to the Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler (FDP) next week. According to media reports, the existing laws should be bundled in the draft in order to provide the patients with a better overview. The main goal is to make the rights more understandable and clear. However, the existing laws should not only be summarized, but also expanded in individual points.

Medical associations criticize expansion of patient rights However, this expansion of the legal situation meets with clear criticism in the medical profession. The Brandenburg State Medical Association criticized the creation of a patient rights law. In the opinion of the doctors' representatives, this model would create an over-regulation in the doctor-patient relationship that leaves little room for the "special relationship of trust" between doctor and patient. “Excessive legal requirements” (for example, the obligation to provide detailed patient receipts or to expand documentation in medical practices) would significantly shorten the effective time for treating the patient, according to the doctors. Medical treatment is not a threat that people should be protected from, according to the association. (sb)

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