Germany looks to bring back sick notes by telephone

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Germany looks to bring back sick notes by telephone
A doctor's waiting room in Germany. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

Allowed as a temporary emergency measure during the pandemic, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to permanently allow doctors to give patients sick notes by phone.


Patients in Germany are once again having to go into the doctor’s office or have video consultations to get a sick note (Krankschreibung) – after a temporary pandemic regulation allowing doctors to give them over the phone expired in March.

The federal government however, is working on a draft law to allow them again – this time permanently.

The draft law also anticipates sick notes by phone to be far-reaching. During the pandemic, patients could typically only get notes by telephone if they were suffering from a respiratory disease – most notably Covid-19. The government’s draft law – if passed – would allow them for all health conditions.

The Health Ministry is hoping that the new law would help relieve general practitioners who are often overwhelmed with waiting room lines – often with patients sick with colds or gastrointestinal infections who simply need a sick note to recover at home.

READ ALSO: Working in Germany: The 10 rules you need to know if you fall ill


There is one key condition though.

The draft law will likely stipulate that the patient is “known” to the practice giving the note out over the phone. It’s not clear whether that means that only regular patients or whether the doctor knows a particular patient due to previous walk-in appointments.

Patients who don’t have some sort of regular relationship with a doctor’s practice would still need to turn up in person to obtain a sick note under the new law.

The Health Ministry is looking to pass the new law in time for the next cold season in autumn.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany’s new electronic sick note works


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