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Patient rights in hospitals - what am I entitled to?

Sometimes there is no avoiding hospitalization. Be it because we have to undergo an operation or because we are plagued by an illness that needs to be treated in hospital. In such a case it is important to know what rights you have in the hospital and what rights you should have. In fact, very few patients know that. So what am I entitled to as a patient if I have a hospital stay ahead of me?


What do we understand by patient rights?

“Patients' rights are understood to mean the rights of the citizens that they all in one Treatment ratio stand by your side ”, so the wording of the Federal Ministry of Health. This includes not only treatments by doctors, but also by alternative practitioners, midwives and psychotherapists.

These patient rights are im Patient Rights Act written down, which can be found in a separate section in Civil Code (BGB) finds again. Basically, the many regulations regulate the interaction in the healthcare system between doctors, clinics, health insurance companies and patients. Above all, however, they help the patients, as this law gives them a more detailed insight into their rights and makes these rights clear to doctors and clinics and thus can have a stronger influence on treatment.


Which rights are laid down in the Patient Rights Act?

A large number of different laws are laid down in the Patient Rights Act. One of the most important laws is that free choice of doctor and hospital. You are always entitled to choose which doctor in which hospital you want to be treated by yourself. Typically, hospitals will give you two recommendations for inpatient treatment. However, if you should choose a different one, you will have to clarify whether the costs will be covered with your health insurance company. In principle, you also have the right to a comprehensive and understandable enlightenment by your attending physician.

This is especially true for diagnosis, treatment and health development. Most patients are not medical professionals; doctors need to take this into account. Therefore, clear and understandable information is mandatory for doctors. If you are unsure about the planned intervention of your treating doctor, you always have the right to have an Second opinion from another doctor. So if you have any doubts about a diagnosis or treatment, a second opinion may be useful. However, the costs are not covered by the health insurance company for all diagnoses. A takeover only takes place if there is a risk of an expansion of the indication in a planned intervention.

Particularly ugly, but unfortunately human: Medical malpractice. If you suspect that a malpractice may have occurred, the doctor must explain it to you fully. Therefore, ask immediately if you should have this suspicion. In this way, you can remove unfounded doubts immediately. If a medical malpractice actually occurred, your health insurance company is legally obliged to support you. In this way, the health insurance company can help you assess your chances of compensation and find the right contact person.

For many patients it is Access to your patient file particularly important. Since doctors are obliged to record all medical aspects such as diagnoses, disease histories and examinations in writing in a patient file, you will find all information there. As a patient, you have access to your medical file at any time. There is only one exception here: if there is a suspicion of suicide. Otherwise, the file should be accessible at all times. In principle, the files must be kept for ten years after the end of the treatment. If the patient dies, the relatives inherit the insight, unless the deceased has objected.

A particularly important patient right that should be mentioned is that Living will. This becomes particularly important when the patient's own decision becomes impossible in extreme illness situations. This is the case, for example, in the event of a serious accident, illness or, in the worst case, in the dying phase. In a living will, you can decide for yourself or specify which treatments you want in a particular situation - and which you don't.

Especially when you are at the end of your life, it is your right to decide for yourself when you want to rest. Your decision must be clearly recognizable in this living will and, if possible, be geared to the current case of illness. In such a case, you should give a person you trust or a relative a power of attorney so that they can act and stand up for you.


Here are the most important patient rights of the patient law summarized:

  • Free choice of medical doctors
  • Free choice of hospital
  • Right to comprehensive and understandable information
  • Right to a second opinion
  • Access to the patient file
  • Living will



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Is there a difference between statutory and private patients?

Around 90 percent of Germans are about that statutory health insurance companies insured. They pay their contributions to them, through which they are insured. Will you be a Cash patient treated in hospital, you do not have to pay anything for your treatment there, except for the statutory co-payments. The doctors then basically get their money from the health insurance companies. This indirect money transfer creates a treatment relationship through which the patient's rights come into effect. Private patients pay the doctors their fees directly and then get the money reimbursed by their private health insurance.

In both cases it occurs Treatment ratio between doctor and patient in force, which is regulated according to the patient rights law in the BGB. This means that for all patients, regardless of whether they are health insurance or private patients, same rights.

The difference is only in the voting rights or also Additional services called. For example, private patients can freely choose which doctor and in which hospital they want to be treated, whereas this is usually more strictly prescribed for statutory health insurance patients.


How can I assert my rights as a patient?

It can happen again and again that doctors do not adhere to the prescribed law and do not comply with your rights as a patient. In such a case you can get help from outside. For this there is Patient advice centers,Medical lawyers, Medical associations or also the Health insuranceswho are at your side with legal questions. They are very familiar with the legal basis and can best help you to really enforce your rights. If your statutory rights are violated during a hospital stay, you should not simply accept it. It is your body and your decision how to proceed with a treatment.


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