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Treatment obligation of the doctor

From the moment of agreement on the treatment relationship, the doctor is obliged to treat the patient. He must proceed conscientiously and attentively.

A treatment should meet medical standards and be in accordance with the recognised and assured state of medical science. The medical standards are based on the abilities, knowledge and skills required in the respective specialist area. The doctor is obliged to fulfil the requirements and expectations which are placed on him in his special field. In principle, the applied medical standard should be up-to-date. However, there is room for manoeuvre in this respect: a general practitioner in private practice in the countryside usually does not have the technical facilities of modern clinics in the big cities.

Whether or not the doctor is forced to treat a patient varies from case to case. If the doctor is under contract with a health insurance company, he has to accept patients from the insurance company.

SHI-accredited doctors may only refuse to treat SHI-accredited patients with a legitimate reason. The situation is different for private patients, who can be refused by a doctor without giving a reason – unless it is an emergency.

Reasons for refusing a patient can be

  • overflowing/overbooked practice
  • Health card missing
  • Lack of trust
  • medical orders are not followed
  • disproportionately high demands on the doctor
  • Disease of the doctor
  • Legal proceedings against the doctor
  • Patient insults doctor or complains disproportionately
  • requiring specialist treatment without their authorisation or qualification
  • Demanding activities that are contrary to professional standards, law or morality, such as euthanasia, unfounded sick leave, non-indexed treatments, desired prescriptions, issuing a false certificate, invoicing for services that were not provided, etc.

If there is a medical need, the doctor must visit the patient and make a house call.

If the patient does not agree to treatment, the doctor is not obliged to carry out the treatment. The doctor’s obligation to treat is therefore limited by the patient’s right of self-determination.

Three Levels of Compulsory Treatment

The treatment obligation is divided into three stages:

The doctor must make the necessary findings.
the doctor must make the resulting diagnosis.
On the basis of the diagnosis, the doctor initiates a therapy and has to monitor its implementation.
Further findings may become necessary in the course of therapy.

If some kind of error take place during the treatment, the doctor is legally liable for it. 
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