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Alternative Practitioners Medical Law in Germany – A decision of the OLG Munich

As you may already know Germany is famous for its numerous legally recognized alternative, naturopathic practitioner. According to a representation of the Federal Statistical Office there were 43.000 practitioners in Germany in 2015. The “Heilpraktiker” profession as defined by German law does not exist in any other EU member state. Only Sweden, Denmark and some Swiss cantons recognize the non-medical practice of medicine with very specific conditions and restrictions.

Under which law is this profession protected and regulated? The Law on the professional practice of medicine without a medical certificate (Heilpraktikergesetz) regulates the intern legal relationships but as you may already know German Law is very well interconnected and complicated and it is sometimes necessary to consult a lawyer/attorney in a case of breach of the related regulations. 

A concerning case currently pending before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH)

A case is currently pending before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in which a young woman contracted cervical cancer and discontinued conventional medical radiation therapy despite good chances of cure (Case No. VI ZR 120/21). Instead, she turned to an alternative practitioner for naturopathic treatment. This was based on a non-evidence-based snake venom therapy. A few months later, the patient died of cancer.

The Munich Higher Regional Court ordered the alternative practitioner to pay the son of the deceased a compensation for pain and suffering in the amount of 30,000 euros. The court considered it a breach of duty by deviation from the standard of treatment owed as a non-medical practitioner that the woman had not emphatically contradicted her patient’s wish to discontinue radiation therapy. The explanation should also have taken into account the fact that the patient’s hope for recovery had been the “last straw” “in her irrational rejection of conventional medicine.”

What are your thoughts about this case? Are you personally involved in a similar case? Compensation for damages cases are out specialization. Are you a naturopath and wishing to assure your legal situation in order to avoid a to be sued in a case similar to the one described above? 


Alternative Practitioners Medical Law in Germany – A decision of the OLG Munich

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