Can we become a doctor?

Checklist: How do you recognize a good doctor's office?

Preface

Dear Patient,

I'm sure you know that: you have to see a doctor and don't really know where to go. Your doctor should be technically competent and trustworthy. You want your concerns to be taken seriously and also to feel well looked after by the practice team. However, it is difficult to assess whether a doctor's practice can actually meet these expectations. For this reason, the checklist "How do you recognize a good doctor's office?" developed. This brochure can help you find the practice that's right for you. Here you can read what you can expect from a good medical practice. Whether a doctor is actually "right" for you is ultimately a trusting relationship that is decisive. It is not created through checklists, but through respectful and open cooperation.
It is no coincidence that institutions of medical self-administration are concerned with this topic. The German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians represent the concerns of the German medical community. As doctors, we are primarily committed to the well-being of the patient. "Doctors and self-help in the service of patients" - with this aim in mind, the patient forum was founded in 2000. It includes self-help umbrella organizations, the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. Improving patient care together is one of the most important concerns of the patient forum. This also includes helping you find a good doctor's office. We would be delighted if this brochure can help you with this.

Prof. Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery
President of the German Medical Association

Dr. Andreas Gassen
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians

The goals of this checklist

This checklist is aimed at all patients who are wondering what makes a good medical practice. Everyone has their own expectations or wishes: For some, for example, easy accessibility and short waiting times are in the foreground, while for others, participation in treatment decisions is particularly important. You are legally entitled to some things: for example, comprehensive and understandable information and the protection of your personal data.

In this brochure we have put together features that can help you choose a good doctor's practice for your needs. But even if you have found an excellent doctor's practice: it probably does not meet all of the requirements on the checklist. Because here we are describing an "ideal" doctor's practice - and that is as rare as any other ideal. Only you can decide for yourself which of the points described are particularly important for you. And after that, you should choose a practice. In addition, the checklist can be an impetus for doctors to further develop their work and their patient orientation in practice.

This brochure also tells you what you can do yourself so that you are well prepared for the next doctor's appointment. We have also put together important questions for you that may arise in the course of a doctor-patient conversation.

Checklist at a glance

The checklist will help you to find a good doctor's practice in which you feel that you are in good hands and at ease. Everyone sets different priorities, depending on what is most important to them when they visit a doctor. Therefore, not all of the points on the checklist have to apply to a practice that you personally rate as good. And: some questions can also go unanswered. So if the criteria that are important to you apply to your doctor, then you have found a good practice for you.

  1. Can I reach the practice easily?
    Details on this question
  2. Will I be treated kindly and respectfully in the practice?
    Details on this question
  3. Does my doctor take me and my concerns seriously?
    Details on this question
  4. Will my personality and my privacy be respected in practice?
    Details on this question
  5. Do I receive understandable and neutral clarification, information and advice?
    Details on this question
  6. Do I get references to further reliable sources of information and advice offers?
    Details on this question
  7. Does my doctor include me and my wishes in all decisions?
    Details on this question
  8. Does my doctor accept that, if in doubt, I want to get a second opinion?
    Details on this question
  9. Will my personal data be protected in practice?
    Details on this question
  10. Can I tell whether my doctor and the staff are participating in advanced training events and quality programs?
    Details on this question
  11. Do I pay attention to the greatest possible safety in my treatment in the practice?
    Details on this question
  12. Can I get access to my patient records without any problems?
    Details on this question
  13. Does the practice cooperate with other doctors?
    Details on this question

Checklist explained in detail

1 Can I reach the practice easily?

Not only the way in which appointments are made, but also structural requirements have an influence on how well you feel cared for in a doctor's office. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Appointments

  • The practice team will coordinate appointments with you. Your personal and professional situation will be taken into account.

  • When making an appointment, you will receive information about the accessibility of the practice or special parking options.

  • In urgent cases of illness or emergencies, you will receive an appointment at short notice.

  • If you have to be examined regularly because of your illness or medication, the practice team will make sure that you keep the appointments or remind you of them.

  • If you wish, the doctor's office will remind you of upcoming vaccinations or preventive and early detection measures.

Accessibility and practice access

  • The practice can be easily reached by phone.

  • An answering machine runs outside of the practice hours. The announcement text indicates, for example, opening times, emergency services or substitutions on vacation, at the weekend and at night.

  • If you speak on the answering machine, you will be called back.

  • You will be given an emergency number after operations that have been carried out in the practice.

  • The doctor's practice is easily accessible: There are handicapped and wheelchair accessible access to the rooms and sanitary facilities.

  • The practice team will help you if you need support due to physical or other limitations.

  • All examination and treatment rooms are clearly signposted, legible and rich in contrast.

  • Your doctor will make house calls if you are seriously ill or if necessary.

2 Will I be treated in a friendly and respectful manner in the practice?

If you treat everyone in the practice in a friendly and respectful manner, you can expect the same from your doctor and the staff. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

respect

  • You will be treated with respect, courtesy and friendly.

  • You will be addressed by your name in the treatment room.

  • The other person lets you finish speaking if you have a question or a concern.

  • In a practice with several doctors, your decision about who you would like to be treated by will be respected. You have the right to choose a doctor freely.

Appointments and waiting times

  • Your doctor will keep your appointments if possible.

  • If an appointment cannot be kept, the practice team will inform you in advance.

  • Waiting times are kept short.

  • You will be informed in good time and appropriately about unforeseen waiting times. As a special service, there is the option to leave the practice for errands and come back later.

Equal treatment

  • There are no differences in the treatment of statutory health insurance patients and those with private insurance.

  • Your doctor and the team of employees treat everyone equally, regardless of: a disability or illness, gender, age, skin color, language, homeland and origin, belief, religious or political beliefs.

support

  • If necessary, you will receive help in the practice with filling out forms, for example with applications to cost units, with transfers or with contradictions.

Dealing with hints and criticism

  • Your doctor and the team are open to your suggestions and complaints if you present them objectively.

3 Does my doctor take me and my concerns seriously?

Many people experience illness as a difficult and stressful situation. You therefore want a professionally competent person of trust who will take you and your concerns seriously. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Listening and caring

  • Your doctor listens carefully to you, takes your questions, worries and wishes seriously and addresses them.

  • Your doctor takes sufficient time for questioning, examination, advice and treatment.

  • Your doctor will answer your questions in detail and give you the feeling that you can address everything.

  • While you are in the treatment room, disturbances such as telephone calls or the like are avoided as far as possible.

  • Your doctor is empathetic and helpful when you report on your complaints.

  • Your doctor will inquire about the possible effects of your illness on your quality of life as well as on your personal and professional situation.

Active inquiries

  • Your doctor will ask you regularly how you are and will carry out any necessary follow-up examinations on his or her own.

  • Your doctor will inquire whether and how medication, physiotherapy or other therapies or recommendations have worked. She / he asks whether and what side effects have occurred and to what extent.

  • Your doctor will inquire about developments in the course of the disease.

  • When you prescribe or administer a medication, your doctor will ask whether you are taking any other medicines you have prescribed or bought yourself. In addition, she / he asks about your medication plan and any known allergies or intolerances or checks your patient file for this information.

Dealing with your concerns

  • Your doctor will not only talk to you, but will also examine you physically.

  • Your doctor will discuss your health problems with you in detail and will try to find the best possible solution together with you.

  • Before the interview, your doctor will find out from your medical file what he / she has discussed with you at the previous appointments.

4 Will my personality and my privacy be respected in practice?

When you visit a doctor, you reveal a lot of your personality and your privacy and become vulnerable. You have a right to privacy and respect for your feelings of shame. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Consideration for your personality

  • You feel that your personality is respected in practice.
  • Your cultural, religious and personal attitudes as well as your clothing styles are respected in practice.

Presence of other people

  • Only the doctor, essential assistant or someone you trust can be found in the consulting room. The helping person will be introduced to you in advance.

  • No other person will enter the room during the examination or treatment.

Before and after the examination

  • Your doctor will greet you before you have to undress for an examination.

  • In every treatment and examination room there is a separate or view-protected area for undressing and getting dressed.

  • When you are undressed, you can wait for the examination or treatment to begin in a secluded area.

  • After the examination, you can get dressed again immediately. Only then will the results of the investigation be discussed.

5 Do I receive understandable and neutral clarification, information and advice?

Doctors are obliged to inform you comprehensively and in good time about your illness and all possible examination and treatment options for your case. They should inform you clearly and in good time so that you can make a decision in peace. You can expressly forego information and clarification. In addition, doctors must inform you about the costs of health services (so-called IGeL) that you may have to bear yourself1. The explanation and information should not only be understandable for you, but also tailored to your needs.

It is also important that doctors inform you independently of your own interests and those of third parties. Because: advertising is ubiquitous these days - but it does not belong in a practice; After all, it is about your health and not about the sale of medical services and resources. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Enlighten and inform individually

  • For some people, talking to a doctor can be difficult, for example if they have hearing impairment or if they have little knowledge of German2. All practice members therefore make every effort to ensure that you understand everything.

  • The information must be given orally. In addition, you can also receive written information material.

  • Your doctor suggests that you bring in someone to accompany you.

  • If required, foreign language information material can be obtained from the doctor's office.

Comprehensive, neutral and understandable information, education and advice

  • If you generally do not want to be informed or cleared up about certain things, your doctor will respect that.

  • Your doctor will explain to you clearly which diagnosis you have been diagnosed with. When appropriate, he / she uses images or graphics.

  • You will receive information on possible causes or signs of illness. You will also be informed about the further course of your illness and the possible consequences for your quality and circumstances of life.

  • If necessary, your doctor will discuss lifestyle changes with you.

  • Your doctor will explain all possible examination and treatment options to you in an objective and understandable manner.

    For example:

    • What options (type and scope) are there?

    • What exactly is being done in each case?

    • how is it done?

    • In what framework is it done?

    • What are the consequences of the measure?

    • Are there alternatives?

    • How suitable is the respective method?

    • How necessary or urgent is the examination or treatment?

    • What are the respective chances of success?

  • The mode of action, benefits, risks and side effects of the proposed examination and treatment options are explained to you in a comprehensible manner.

  • You will be given advice on whether and how you can avoid side effects and what you should do if they occur.

  • Your doctor will explain to you if the benefits or risks of an examination or treatment method have not yet been scientifically investigated or reliably proven.

  • Your doctor will also explain to you what effects the recommended examination or treatment options can have on your quality of life and your everyday life.

  • Your doctor will explain the consequences of not receiving treatment.

Transmission of information

  • The practice provides you with reliable information about an examination result; even if this is inconspicuous.

  • You can call for urgent medical questions or inquire about findings. However, you should discuss the findings and the consequences thereof in a personal conversation in practice.

  • The practice gives you a written overview of the prescribed medication (medication plan). Such an overview is particularly important if several doctors are involved in your treatment.

  • You will also receive information on taking or using the prescribed medication, for example on the dosage or duration of use.

Information on financing

  • Your doctor will explain to you which costs for examinations, treatments or aids are only partially covered by your health insurance company or not at all and which costs you are likely to incur.

Information on individual health services (IGeL)3

  • If your doctor recommends an IGeL, he or she will explain why it can be of use to you.

  • At IGeL, your doctor will inform you verbally and in writing about the benefits and possible risks beforehand. You will also receive information about the exact amount of the costs you will have to pay and the method of payment.

  • If an IGeL is to be carried out, your doctor will conclude a written treatment contract with you.

  • In the event that you do not want to be advised about IGeL offers or reject a proposed IGeL, your doctor will respect your decision.

Check that you have understood everything

  • Your doctor will ask whether you have understood all of the explanations.

  • Your doctor encourages you to ask questions yourself.

  • If you have forgotten something, you can ask again at the next appointment. Your doctor will understand this.

6 Do I get references to further reliable sources of information and advice offers?

Nobody can remember everything that is discussed during a doctor's appointment. Many questions only arise after leaving the practice. You want to find out more about chronic or serious illnesses in particular. Some illnesses also raise questions about rehabilitation or social benefits. It is therefore helpful if you can find references to further reliable information in a doctor's practice, such as quality-assured internet offers or patient guidelines. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Further reliable information

  • Your doctor will provide you with important information on general health issues or your illness in writing.

  • In the practice, you will find information on where you can obtain more reliable information about your disease and its treatment. Further sources of information, such as advice centers, self-help contact points or medical organizations, can be found from page 37.

Addresses of contact points

  • Your doctor will explain to you about contact points for self-help and patient advice. If necessary, you will receive contact addresses or information on the respective websites in your practice.

  • In the practice, information material is available about which self-help organizations and contact points or advisory services are in your area.

Training

  • There are special training programs for patients for some chronic diseases, for example diabetes or asthma. If you have such a condition, your doctor will advise you of such training courses or explain where you can take such training courses.

7 Does my doctor include me and my wishes in all decisions?

After careful information, you have the right to determine the type and scope of medical treatment yourself. Your personal needs and living conditions play an important role. So you can decide for yourself whether an examination or treatment is carried out or not. You also have the right to decide against medical advice. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Decide together

  • Your doctor will ask you what expectations, personal values ​​and wishes you have of a treatment yourself. These are taken seriously.

  • Your doctor will clarify with you whether and how you would like to be involved in decisions about examinations and treatments.

  • Your doctor will motivate you to make decisions about the necessary measures together.

  • Your doctor will also respect it if you want to make a decision on your own.

  • If you prefer to leave a decision to your doctor, the procedure will still be explained and explained to you in an understandable way. When making a decision, your ideas, fears, wishes and needs are taken into account.

  • Your doctor will inquire whether your personal circumstances or your job allow a treatment method.

  • Your doctor will accept if you disagree with a treatment proposal or if you express concerns about the doctor's recommendation.

  • You don't feel like you're being pushed in any direction when making decisions about exams or treatments.

  • If possible, your doctor will give you sufficient time to think about important decisions.

  • Sometimes it can be useful to wait a while before starting treatment. In some cases, treatment is not necessary either. If so, your doctor will explain it to you in such a way that you don't feel like nothing is being done for your health.

  • If you wish, you can involve family members or close confidants in counseling and / or information.

8 Does my doctor accept that, if in doubt, I want to get a second opinion?

You have the right to get a second opinion from another doctor. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Your doctor does not see it as a breach of trust if you ask for another opinion in the event of uncertainty.

  • Your doctor understands that you want to obtain further opinion for decisions with far-reaching consequences and will support your concerns. This also means that you have easy access to your patient records (more on this from page 24).

  • In the event of difficult decisions or serious illnesses which are associated with considerable consequences for you, your doctor will offer you an additional opinion.

9 Will my personal data be protected in practice?

Information that you give your doctor and personal data that is collected and stored on this basis must be treated confidentially and protected. They must not be passed on to unauthorized third parties. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Protection of your information and data

  • The reception or registration area in the practice is designed in such a way that other people cannot overhear or read along if possible.

  • When registering, we ensure that other people do not receive any information about the reason for your visit or the reason for the illness.

  • Conversations during the examination or treatment take place in rooms in which no strangers can overhear.

  • For information over the phone, you will be asked for your full name or your insurance number. This ensures, for example, that information is not given to strangers.

  • Your doctor and the team will only provide information to third parties on the phone if it is certain that the person making the inquiry is entitled to do so. Make sure that you have your written consent.

Protect other people's data

  • The practice also endeavors to protect the data of other people.

    For example:

    • You cannot view other people's documents at the reception counter. You cannot overhear conversations that do not concern you.

    • You don't wait alone in treatment rooms where you can view other people's medical records or the computer screen.

    • In the presence of patients, the practice team does not speak by name about other people, for example about findings or diagnoses.

  • In practice, prescriptions and forms are not kept open and freely accessible to other people.

10 Can I tell whether my doctor and the staff are participating in advanced training events and quality programs?

Doctors must regularly receive further training in their field. This way they acquire new knowledge and skills. In addition - according to the provisions of the Social Security Code - contract doctors and medical care centers are obliged to introduce and further develop quality management in their facilities and to take part in quality assurance measures. In addition, doctors must have authorization to bill for quality-assured services, for example for ultrasound. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Qualification and training

  • Information about the qualifications of the practice members, for example special or additional training, is shown.

  • Your doctor and the team take part in training courses on a regular basis. You can find out more on request or in the waiting room, for example in a practice brochure or through notices.

Notes on quality management and quality assurance

  • Your opinion is important to the practice: You will be asked about your satisfaction with the practice and you have the opportunity to express complaints and suggestions.

  • The doctor's practice takes part in a quality program. Examples of this are: programs for quality management, for the care of the chronically ill (such as disease management programs, DMP) or family doctor-centered care as well as measures for quality assurance (e.g. for outpatient surgery).

  • The quality of the medical practice has been checked or certified. You can recognize this from a corresponding notice.

Current state of knowledge

  • Your doctor can answer your question about the latest research into your condition.

  • Your doctor knows the recommendations for the treatment and care of your illness, which are based on the current state of medical knowledge. Treatment recommendations can be found in medical guidelines, which are often also available as patient versions.

  • If your doctor cannot answer your question immediately, he / she will try to find an answer for you by the next appointment.

11 Is it important to ensure that my treatment is as safe as possible in the practice?

Your safety is an important asset. Doctors should therefore do everything possible to avoid misdiagnosis or mix-ups, for example, or to identify them in good time and thus avert avoidable damage. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Patient safety measures

  • Although everyone who works in the practice works carefully, mix-ups or errors can occur. Measures to avoid them include:

    • Your doctor will make sure that you have understood all the information correctly - for example by asking you to repeat what was said yourself in your own words.

    • Before administering medication and before vaccinations, examinations or treatments, your doctor and medical staff will ask for your full name, date of birth and perhaps your illness, for example.

    • All documents that are drawn up and issued in your practice are legible and understandable.

  • Your doctor and the team disinfect their hands before each patient contact.

12 Can I get access to my patient records without any problems?

You can and should know about your illness and its treatment. You have the right to inspect your patient file. It may also be the case that you need findings and documents from the practice for another doctor's practice or clinic. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

Inspection

  • Your doctor will allow you to inspect your patient records on request4. In exceptional cases, access may be restricted, namely if there are significant therapeutic reasons or other significant third-party rights that conflict with this.

  • At your request, your practice will issue you a patient receipt. On this, the medical services provided and their costs are compiled in an understandable manner for you.

Take away

  • If you wish, you will receive a copy or an electronic copy of your patient file. However, you must bear the costs incurred yourself.

  • To avoid double examinations, you can borrow your X-ray images from the practice.

  • Upon request, you will receive a comprehensive doctor's letter with all the facts that are important in connection with your illness. This can be important if you are going on a long vacation trip and need medical attention at the holiday destination. This service is chargeable.

13 Does the practice cooperate with other doctors?

Sometimes it is necessary for your doctor to coordinate with other colleagues. Therefore, you should pay attention to the following:

cooperation

  • Your doctor will make it clear to you in which cases colleagues have more experience or more specialized training.

Transfer and briefing

  • If you would like a referral, your doctor will help you with it.

  • In the event of a referral or admission to a hospital, the practice forwards all important information: Your doctor will promptly send your doctor's letter to the respective practice or inpatient facility. You will be informed of this.

  • If necessary, your doctor will discuss examination results that were created by other practices with your colleagues.

Swell:

  1. The information and clarification obligations are set out in Section 630c and Section 630e of the German Civil Code (more on the Patient Rights Act on page 35).

  2. The explanatory memorandum to the Patient Rights Act states that the information provided must be understandable for patients.

  3. IGeL are medical services that are not financed by the statutory health insurance and must therefore be paid for by the insured themselves (see "Small Dictionary"). A guide to IGeL for patients can be downloaded free of charge from www.igel-check.de.

  4. According to Section 630g of the German Civil Code, patients have the right to inspect their patient files.

Tips and advice for your doctor's visit

With good preparation and your own efforts, you can do a lot to ensure that your next visit to the doctor is satisfactory. We have put together tips for you here.

Before going to the doctor

  • Make a list of all the medications you are currently taking. In addition to tablets, this list also includes sprays, drops or ointments. You can also just take the medicine packs with you.

  • Make a note of any products you have bought yourself, such as dietary supplements or herbal supplements.

  • Write down any other treatments you are currently receiving, such as physical therapy.

  • If you already have reports from another practice, take them with you. This also includes medical documents such as an X-ray pass, vaccination certificate or medication plan.

  • Don't forget to pack your insurance card or transfer slip.

  • Think about whether you want to take someone you trust with you. Let the practice team know if someone else will be there for the appointment.

  • At home, write down questions to ask your health care professional. Then don't forget anything later.

  • Let the practice know if you need support during your visit to the doctor, for example because of a disability.

  • If you cannot keep a doctor's appointment, inform the practice team in good time. In this way, the process can be better organized in practice.

  • Come to the practice as punctually as possible. This helps the practice team to keep waiting times for other patients short.

During the doctor's visit

  • Respect and friendly interaction should be a matter of course for you.

  • You yourself can help ensure that your data is protected in practice. For example, make sure that other patients cannot overhear your confidential conversations.

  • You will make it easier for your doctor if you get straight to the point and describe your concern straight away.

  • Specify your current complaints, previous treatments or previous illnesses in detail.

  • Describe your living conditions and habits.

  • If your family has serious illnesses, tell your doctor. Examples are: high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases or cancer.

  • Tell your doctor whether you suffer from allergies or intolerances.

  • Tell your doctor if anything related to your illness makes you feel depressed, worried, or unsure.

  • Tell me immediately if you do not understand something.

  • Together with your doctor, decide what to do.

  • Don't be afraid to speak to your doctor if you think a mistake has occurred. For example, if you think you have been mistaken for someone else, or that the wrong medication has been prescribed or administered to you.


Before deciding on an examination or treatment:

  • Take your time to think it over, unless there are medical reasons against it.

  • Get a second opinion on serious decisions.

  • Invite someone you know if you want to.

  • Exchange ideas with other people affected. Let them tell you about their experiences.

If you have not understood something or something is unclear, do not hesitate to ask. Below is a list of possible questions for your next doctor consultation. These questions can help you address important issues in practice. It is best to write down your specific questions in advance so that you do not forget anything later at the doctor's appointment.

To the examination options

  • What examination options are there?

  • Which examination methods are suitable for me and my health problem?

  • What is the use of the investigation? Is it scientifically proven?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the examination methods?

  • What are the risks or complications of the examination?

  • Do you need to prepare for this examination?

  • What are the consequences if this examination is not carried out?

  • Will the examination be reimbursed by my health insurance company or do I have to bear the costs myself? Is there perhaps a similar examination that my health insurance will pay for?

  • When will I get my test results?

  • What consequences can the test result have?

  • Are additional examinations necessary afterwards?

About your illness

  • What do I have? What's my diagnosis?

  • What caused my illness?

  • Do I have to be treated at all now, or is it enough to observe the further course?

  • What can I do myself to improve my health?

  • What are the health consequences of my illness?

  • How do I know if my symptoms are getting worse?

  • What should I do if my symptoms worsen?

  • What can I do myself to prevent the disease from recurring?

  • What do partners, relatives and family need to know about my illnesses?

  • Where can I find reliable information material, brochures or websites about my illness?

  • What social aids, rehabilitation services or other support options are there?

To the treatment options

  • What treatment options are there?

  • Which treatments are suitable for me?

  • What is the goal and what is the benefit of the treatments?

  • Is there any scientific evidence of its usefulness and how reliable is it?

  • What damage, side effects and restrictions do I have to expect with the individual treatment options?

  • Will the treatments also affect my everyday life, and if so, how?

  • How long will the treatment take?

  • When and how often do I have to come back to the practice for treatment?

  • When can I expect my symptoms to improve during or after the treatment?

  • Will the treatment be reimbursed by my health insurance company? Do I have to bear the costs myself? How much is my own contribution? Is there a treatment with a similar effect that is covered by my health insurance?

  • What can / must I watch out for myself during the treatment?

  • Am I cured after the treatment?

To medication

  • What is the purpose of the drug?

  • What does the drug do? What is the use of it?

  • When should the drug be effective?

  • When can I stop taking the drug?

  • How do I use the drug exactly? How, how often, when and for how long do I have to take the medication?

  • What do I do if I forget to take this medicine or if I accidentally take it twice?

  • What side effects are to be expected? What should I pay attention to in this regard?

  • What can I do if I experience side effects, allergies or I cannot tolerate the drug?

  • Are the newly prescribed medications compatible with those I'm already taking?

  • Do regular checks have to be carried out? If so, which ones and how often? If you have not heard anything after the agreed time, ask at the doctor's office about the results of controls that have been carried out.

Small dictionary

Doctor review portals
For some years now, various doctor evaluation portals have been offering their help in finding a doctor on the Internet. Doctors can be rated on such platforms. So that users can recognize reputable portals, the Medical Center for Quality in Medicine (ÄZQ), together with a group of experts, has developed a catalog with quality standards for good doctor evaluation portals. You can find this catalog at www.arztbewertungsportale.de.

diagnosis
By carefully examining, weighing up and assessing all the signs of illness, the doctor concludes that a disease is present and what it is.

Disease Management Programs
Disease Management Programs (DMP) are structured treatment programs for chronically ill people. DMP is available, for example, for people with diabetes mellitus, asthma or breast cancer. The aim of these programs is to improve care for the sick.

Information and notes on DMP can be found at www.gesundheitsinformation.de/was-sind-disease-management-programme-dmp.2489.de.html or www.kbv.de/html/dmp.php.

Hedgehog
Statutory health insurance companies generally cover the costs for all diagnostic measures and treatment methods that are appropriate, necessary and economical. If doctors suggest an examination or treatment that is not included in the catalog of services provided by your statutory health insurance, you will have to pay for it yourself. Such medical services are referred to as individual health services (short: IGeL). These can be divided into:

  • Services that are not paid for by the statutory health insurances because, in the opinion of the Federal Joint Committee, there is currently insufficient evidence of their benefit. These can be new types of services that are covered by statutory health insurances in the hospital, but not in the outpatient area. In the hospital, services may be provided at the expense of the statutory health insurance companies, as long as they are not expressly excluded. In outpatient care, services must be checked for their benefit and expressly approved before they are taken over by the statutory health insurances. That is why such services are often offered as IGeL in the doctor's practice.

  • Medical services outside the scope of coverage of the statutory health insurance companies, such as medical advice on long-distance travel or expert certificates on fitness to fly.

  • Services for which there is no proof of benefit, but which also do not suggest any significant damage, so that the ratio of benefit and damage is at least balanced.

  • Services desired by patients that have no medical objective, such as cosmetic surgery, if they are at least justifiable from a medical point of view.

If you have decided on an IGeL, your doctor is obliged to conclude a written treatment contract with you. This agreement must contain a description of the medical service you would like to take advantage of and information about the likely amount of the fee (IGeL costs). You must also confirm with your signature that you have been informed about the benefits and risks and that you have been informed that this is not a service provided by your health insurance company and that you will therefore have to pay the costs yourself.

In the brochure “Pay yourself? A guide to individual health services (IGeL) for patients and doctors “tells you what to look out for if your doctor offers you such a service or if you would like an IGeL of your own accord. You can find this brochure on the Internet at www.patienten-information.de/checklisten/igel-checkliste.

On the "IGeL Monitor" you can find out about the benefits and risks of IGeL on the Internet
www.igel-monitor.de.

Guideline
A guideline is an aid to orientation and decision-making for doctors and other medical professionals. It provides information on the appropriate medical procedure for special health problems and illnesses.

A guideline is drawn up by a group of experts whose members belong to various medical societies for the disease area in question. The information on examinations and treatments for the disease described is based on scientific evidence. Nevertheless, a guideline is not a mandatory requirement, but rather it gives recommendations and describes a corridor for action and decision-making, which must be deviated from in justified cases. Because: Everyone has their own medical history and their own wishes. Doctors must take this into account during treatment.

Further information can be found on the Internet at www.leitlinien.de or www.awmf.org.

Patient guideline
Patient guidelines are based on the scientific content of medical guidelines. They are therefore based on the best currently available medical knowledge. For the patient record, the recommendations of the respective medical guidelines are translated into a language that is understandable for laypeople. During the creation, the experiences and wishes of the persons concerned are taken into account. The patient guides also provide background information on the causes of the disease and the possible examination and treatment methods. There you will also find information on how to deal with the disease and addresses for further assistance.

You can download patient guidelines free of charge from www.patienten-information.de.

Patient receipt
If you wish, your doctor will give you a so-called patient receipt. All the services that your doctor has provided for you and their provisional costs are noted in writing there. The list can be issued to you directly after your visit to the doctor (daily receipt) or quarterly. For a quarterly receipt you have to pay one euro and perhaps also shipping costs.

Information on the patient receipt is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) at
www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/themen/praevention/patientenrechte/patientenquittung.html#c3610.

Patient Rights Act
The Patient Rights Act came into force in February 2013. It summarizes the previous jurisprudence on medical liability law and the essential contractual rights of patients in eight new paragraphs in the German Civil Code (Sections 630a-630h). The new regulations include the definition of a treatment contract, the medical education and information obligations, consent, the right to inspect patient files and the distribution of the burden of proof in the event of treatment and clarification errors. Changes in Book V of the Social Security Code (SGB V) also strengthen the support of the insured in the event of treatment errors by the health insurance companies and promote the establishment of error reporting and learning systems.

The most important regulations can be found in an information brochure at: www.patientenbeauftragter.de/images/pdf/Barrierefrei%20Broschuere_Patientenrecht_bf.pdf.

Patient safety
In medicine, the term "patient safety" is understood to mean all measures in a practice or in a hospital that are intended to protect patients from avoidable damage during an examination or treatment.

Quality management
With the help of quality management, workflows and processes can be planned and structured in medical practices and thus contribute to better practice organization. Various programs are available for this. The patient's point of view is also included.

rehabilitation
This designation encompasses all medical, psychotherapeutic, social and professional services that aim to reintegrate a sick person into family, society and professional life. Rehabilitation should enable sick people to cope better with their illness and problems. It usually follows treatment in the hospital.

Internet sources and further information

Doctor search

Online doctor search and telephone information
National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians
www.kbv.de/arztsuche/178.html

Accessibility

Brochure "Breaking down barriers" with ideas and suggestions for a disabled-friendly practice
National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians
www.kbv.de/barrieren-abbauen.html

Brief information for patients "How to recognize a barrier-free practice"
National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and Federal Medical Association
www.patienten-information.de/kurzinformationen/barrierefrei-arztpraxis

consultation

Free advice for citizens on health issues, legal issues and psychosocial issues
Independent patient counseling Germany (UPD)
www.unabhaengige-patientenberatung.de

complaint

Brochure "Expert commissions and arbitration boards at the regional medical associations"
Federal Medical Association
www.bundesaerztekammer.de/patienten/gutachterkommissions-schlichtungstellen/

Decide together

Härter M, Loh A, Spies C (Eds.), Decide together - treat successfully, Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag, 2005

Patient information

Reliable patient information
Medical center for quality in medicine

Evidence-based health information
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
www.gesundheitsinformation.de

Patient rights

Informing the German medical profession about patient rights
Federal Medical Association
www.bundesaerztekammer.de/patienten/patientenrechte/

Patient Rights Act

Patient safety

Action Alliance for Patient Safety e. V. (APS) - Platform to improve patient safety in Germany
www.aktionsbuendnis-patientensicherheit.de

Patientensicherheit-Online.de
www.patientensicherheit-online.de

Brochure "More safety in drug therapy"
National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians
www.kbv.de/media/sp/PraxisWissen_Mehr_Sicherheit_bei_der_Arzneimitteltherapie.pdf

Information sheet "Taking Medication Safely"
National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and Federal Medical Association
www.patienten-information.de/kurzinformationen/arzneimittel-und-impfungen/sichere-arzneimitteltherapie

Quality and quality management

KTQ - cooperation for transparency and quality in health care
www.ktq.de

"QEP - Quality and Development in Praxen®", the quality management system of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians
www.kbv.de/qm

QMA - quality management from the patient's perspective
www.aezq.de/aezq/kompendium_q-m-a/3-qualitaetsmanagement-und-die-sicht-der-patienten

Institute for Applied Quality Promotion and Research (AQUA)
www.aqua-institut.de

Institute for Quality and Patient Safety (BQS Institute)
www.bqs-institut.de

Self help

Nationwide network facility, contact point and information on group self-help
www.nakos.de

Self-help on the Internet: Orientation, discussing and finding others
www.selbsthilfe-interaktiv.de

Interface management

Checklist for medical interface management between the care sectors