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Doctors cash-in on patient referrals

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Doctors cash-in on patient referrals
Photo: DPA
10:52 CEST+02:00
Doctors are increasingly corrupt, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. A new study shows 1 in 4 German doctors receive cash or other incentives for referring their patients to certain clinics.

According to the study by the University of Halle-Wittenberg, 24 percent of clinics admitted to cashing-in on so-called Fangprämien or premiums for referring their patients, reported Bild newspaper on Tuesday.

“Premiums are illegal!” Health expert and CDU politician Jens Spahn told Bild on Tuesday. “It's not just about the well-being of the patient, but also about the doctors' wallets. Every individual case is completely unacceptable.”

In the study seen by the paper, Professor Kai Bussmann surveyed over 1,100 private practice doctors, residential care and other health care professionals for the GVK Spitzenverband umbrella organisation of German health insurance companies.

Nearly half – 49 percent - of other health professionals such as medical supply stores, hearing aid specialists or makers of orthopaedic shoes admitted to illegally receiving money or favours for referring paying patients, reported the paper.

The paper reported that one fifth of doctors surveyed said they had not been aware of the rules against receiving financial or other benefits from referring patients.

40 percent had thought this was just an advisory guideline. The majority of doctors thought the risk of being caught was small and felt secure in the lacking controls and sanctions.

“These are mafia relationships that lead to massive damage for patients who are sent to receive treatment that isn't ideal for them,” opposition politician Karl Lauterbach from the Social Democrats told Bild.

“The best doctor is not found for them - instead they are sent to where the most bribe money will be paid.”

Lauterbach called on the government to put a stop to corruption and bribes in the health care sector.

DAPD/jlb

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