Inadequate language skills of foreign doctors are, according to the Association of Hospital Directors in Germany, a growing problem in clinics nationwide that could endanger the health of patients. At its 122nd Annual General Meeting, the medical union Marburger Bund also criticized the "different requirements and procedures in the individual federal states" when it came to proving the language skills of medical professionals.
“Pain is not good, take pills”, something like this, doctors repeatedly describe diagnoses to patients if they are not or only barely able to speak the German language. However, because communication is fundamentally important for diagnostics, the Marburger Bund requires sufficient language skills for doctors before they are employed in clinics.
Not least because of the difficulties in filling vacant medical positions, doctors from abroad are increasingly being acquired, especially in smaller clinics. These come from countries such as Egypt, Greece, Romania, Spain or Syria and in many places make an indispensable contribution to maintaining hospital operations. "The proportion of foreign doctors at the assistance level has risen sharply" and has already reached over 50 percent in many clinics, the President of the Association of Hospital Directors of Germany, Josef Düllings, told the news agency "dpa". Although the doctors are generally technically good, many hospitals would hire them because of the acute need before the required language skills are available. Under certain circumstances, this would become “a safety problem” for the patient, Düllings continued.
Communication between doctor and patient is an essential factor in any treatment, not least to avoid unnecessary health risks. For example, if the attending physician does not understand what his patient is reporting about existing allergies or existing medical conditions, this can lead to considerable, possibly even fatal, problems during the course of the therapy. Sufficient knowledge of German should therefore be available to all doctors working in this country. However, smaller clinics in particular are increasingly struggling with an acute shortage of doctors. A recent survey by the Association of Hospital Directors among around 1,800 of its members showed that almost half (49 percent) of general hospitals with less than 250 hospital beds considered filling vacancies for doctors very difficult. The situation is also not much better in the larger general hospitals. Overall, 37 percent of general hospitals struggle with such difficulties, while only seven percent have similar problems at university hospitals, reports the Association of Hospital Directors.
According to the Association of Hospital Directors, the acute shortage of doctors means that the smaller clinics in particular are increasingly employing foreign doctors in order to be able to maintain operations. As long as doctors have sufficient language skills, hiring foreign doctors is clearly an advantage for patients. Not least because of the differences between the federal states regarding the language test required to issue a professional license or a license to practice, language competence was not equally guaranteed everywhere, the delegates of the Marburg Federation also complained at their 122nd general meeting.
According to the Marburg Federation, "many federal states accept language certificates from different domestic and foreign providers" and "sometimes an oral interview with the authority is sufficient." In only one state did they submit a Goethe certificate or Telc certificate and in two federal states must at least pass an oral specialist language test in medical communication. "These different requirements and procedures in the individual federal states cannot be justified objectively and legally," complained the delegates of the Marburg Federation and added: "The resulting inconsistent and in many places inadequate language skills of foreign doctors lead to doubts about the continuous guarantee of patient safety. "
In view of the inadequate situation in the exams to ensure the language proficiency of the medical profession, the Marburger Bund demanded a recognized general language examination of the medical profession before issuing a professional license, "which was not more than three years ago and at least represents level B2 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages (GER) "In addition, the applicants should have passed a recognized specialist language test within the last three years before they can work as a doctor in this country, according to the Marburg Federation. The members of the Conference of Ministers of Education and the Conference of Ministers of Health of the federal states are asked to finally come to common rules. The President of the Association of Hospital Directors also spoke in favor of creating more places for medical studies in the individual federal states. (fp)
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