According to Law No. 3418/2005, especially Articles 8 “Medicine as a relationship of trust and respect” and 9 “Obligations of physicians towards their patients”:
- A physician shall always maintain the highest standard of conduct, in accordance to the requirements of medical science and their mission.
- A physician shall ensure honest professional interactions and shall always respect a patient’s beliefs and the dignity.
- A physician shall never interfere with the patient’s private and family life unless necessary for the efficient provision of medical services.
- A physician shall respect a patient’s religious, philosophical, political and ethical beliefs and shall remain objective during the provision of medical services.
- A physician shall never abuse a patient’s trust, never enter into any inappropriate relationship with either patients or their relatives, never pursue any financial benefit or disclose private information.
- In case a physician refers a patient to another colleague, the former shall make sure that the latter is fully aware of the patient’s condition.
- A physician is obliged to call a medical council meeting IF either the patient or the patient’s family so requires.
- A physician cannot refuse the provision of medical care for reasons irrelevant to the physician’s scientific competence.
- A physician shall provide emergency care regardless of their medical specialty and the availability of the necessary means for exercising their medical duties, until the patient is referred to an appropriate specialist or institution.
- A physician may invoke personal or scientific reasons and stop providing medical care, provided that the patient’s life is not at immediate risk.
Additionally: Articles 11 “Obligation to inform”, 12 “Patient informed consent”, and 13 “Medical confidentiality” of the above Law are fully consistent with paragraphs 4-7, Article 47 of Law 2071/92 on patient rights, and dictate the following:
- A physician bears a duty of candour towards patients and shall inform them fully and comprehensibly of their true health status, the content and results of the medical procedure proposed, the consequences and possible implications of carrying out said procedure, so that patients can have a complete picture of the medical, social and financial consequences of their medical condition.
- A physician shall respect the wish of those who choose not to be informed or who request that the physician inform another person suggested by them.
- Special attention should be given during the provision of information related to special surgical operations, such as transplants, aesthetic or cosmetic procedures.
- In the event that a patient is not capable of providing consent to a medical procedure, the physician shall inform the patient to the fullest possible extent, as well as the people authorized to provide consent on behalf of the patient.
- A physician is not allowed to perform any medical procedure without the patient’s prior consent.
- The conditions for a valid consent are the following: the patient is fully and comprehensibly informed; the patient is capable of providing consent; the consent has not been provided by mistake or after fraud or duress and is not contrary to good morals; the consent shall fully cover the medical procedure at the time when it is carried out.
- The following cases are exceptions to the requirement of informed consent: extremely urgent cases that call for immediate medical care; attempted suicide; need for immediate medical intervention when a minor’s parents, or the relatives of a person unable to consent, refuse to consent.
- A physician must not reveal the confidences entrusted to them by a patient or any assumptions based on the patient’s behaviour, and must take any necessary precautions to ensure medical confidentiality.
Article 5 of the aforementioned Law, titled “Medical certificates and opinions”, solves an important issue related to a patient’s right to choose their physician or hospital.
Article 5, paragraph 1 dictates that all lawfully issued medical certificates and medical opinions are equally valid and have the same legal validity for any lawful use before every authority and service, WHETHER they are issued by physicians employed in public hospitals or other institutions, or by private physicians.
The last phrase of paragraph 1, Article 5 “Any special regulations are still IN FORCE”, which enabled health committees, physicians contracted with insurance funds, etc. to refuse to accept valid medical certificates, was abolished by Law 3627/2007, Article 6, paragraph 2, Government Gazette Issue No. 292/A/24.