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National Contact Point for cross-border healthcare

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Legal sources

On the pages below, you will find an overview of the most important legal sources with regard to taking up cross-border healthcare services.

As the National Contact Point for cross-border healthcare, we offer you a wealth of information on the various topics that may be important to you when receiving treatment in another country. This includes information on national healthcare pro-viders, applicable quality and safety regulations, patients’ rights including their en-forcement, rights and entitlements when taking up cross-border services in other Member States, minimum requirements for cross-border prescriptions, and Contact Points in other Member States. We have listed the most important legal provisions for you in this area below.

We will be happy to assist you should you have any questions regarding the individual legal provisions. You will find our contact information in the far right-hand column, amongst other places.

Entitlements arising from Patients' Rights Directive

Directive 2011/24/EU – also known as the Patients’ Rights Directive – largely implements the principles set out in many judgments of the European Court of Justice for cross-border healthcare within the European Union. Directive 2011/24/EU also contains provisions on the cross-border recognition of prescriptions issued in another Member State. These provisions are lent even greater detail by Implementing Directive 2012/52/EU.

Taken together, both the directive and the implementing directive only provide the framework within which the Member States must establish via national legal provisions how the entitlements and framework conditions are manifested in detail. Each State therefore had to transpose the rights stipulated in the Patients’ Rights Directive and in the implementing directive by means of national legal provisions. The transposition deadline expired on 25 October 2013.

Germany had already transposed the long-standing case-law of the European Court of Justice, and thus ultimately also Directive 2011/24/EU, into national law in the calendar year 2004, in particular in section 13 subsections (4)-(6) of Book V of the Social Code. The Medicinal Products Prescriptions Ordinance (Arzneimittelverschreibungsverordnung) was adapted in accordance with implementing directive 2012/52/EU.

Furthermore, each Member State had to establish a “national contact point” by this date. The contact point informs patients in a non-competitive fashion what rights and obligations they have within cross-border healthcare. National implementation regulations were also issued for this in each State. The legal basis in national law can be found in section 219d of Book V of the Social Code.

We have arranged the essential regulations which were included in the German law to this or already consisted in the German law before coming into force of the guideline for you.

Entitlements arising from the European regulations on coordination

In addition to entitlements under the “Patients’ Rights Directive”, claims to have costs assumed in connection with cross-border healthcare may arise from European coordination law. The European coordination regulations – Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and its Implementing Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 – coordinate the various fields of social security with one another within Europe.

You can obtain information on the resultant entitlements within cross-border healthcare from the competent health insurance funds or from the German Liaison Agency Health Insurance – International.

You will find the provisions of the coordination regulations on cross-border healthcare which are relevant to you below. They are broken down by topical areas.

Patients’ rights in accordance with German law

The National Contact Points provide information amongst other things on patients’ rights, including the possibility of their enforcement. The term “patients’ rights” is very general, and also covers the collective rights of patients’ and self-help organi-sations at institutional level. As a rule, however, this term is understood to mean the rights that a patient has as a result of a treatment relationship with a healthcare provider. These patients’ rights were first laid down in sections 630a to 630h of the Civil Code (BGB) in the calendar year 2013. They include the following

- rights to receive information and advice from the healthcare provider, and

- rights to inspect patient documents and rights in the event of suspi-cion of medical malpractice.

We have inserted the relevant provisions contained in the Civil Code (BGB) for you below:

Provisions regarding regulations on quality and safety in the healthcare system

A patient’s safety in in-patient and out-patient care is given high priority in Germany. In addition to numerous legal regulations, many practical measures have been taken in Germany in order to ensure patient safety in practice. Obligations for healthcare providers include taking part in inter-institutional quality assurance measures, providing benefits according to the respective state of scientific knowledge, setting up a system for patients’ complaints or introducing quality management at intra-institutional level. Healthcare providers may anonymously report weaknesses; patients may turn to advice centres free of charge, and hospitals draw up annual quality reports according to uniform standards. These and a large number of other measures aim at optimising processes in in-patient and out-patient care as well as at a critical consideration, assessment and constant improvement of quality of patient care.

You will find a part of the most important German regulations on quality and safety below.

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Legal notice

Translations of legal sources are provided for information purposes only. Please note the heading ‘Laws and ordinances’ in the imprint.