Germany has so far come through the Corona pandemic relatively lightly. Mainly because the feared collapse of the
German healthcare system has failed to materialize. But now the virus is causing another problem. For fear of infection, many patients do not visit the doctor. Which can also have devastating consequences for the health system.
Since the corona crisis really started in Germany, many practices have restricted their operations. The expected collapse of the health system did not materialize, but now there is an equally pressing problem. Because many medical practices have almost no patients. People postpone their visits to the doctor for fear of infection with the coronavirus. “The uncertainty among the population has led to a massive decline in doctor-patient contact,” says a position paper from the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Bavaria (KVB), for example. According to data from surveys, most doctors have a third fewer patients than in the previous year. In the case of preventive medical examinations, the number of patients has even decreased by 80 percent. “Go back to your family doctor, specialist or psychotherapist. Make the necessary preventive appointments and participate in the various programs for the early detection of diseases. There is no reason to postpone a visit to the practice for fear of a possible infection with the coronavirus, ”the KVB appeals to the patients.
Now the first doctors are raising the alarm. Some patients who do not go to the doctor out of fear could risk their health with this measure. In the “Bild” newspaper, physicians are already warning of unforeseeable consequences for the German health care system. It will probably only be possible to determine in a few years what damage the corona crisis has caused. Early cancer diagnoses can be critical to life or death. Even patients at high risk of heart attacks and strokes postpone their doctor’s appointments for the time being. In the hospitals, too, the number of admitted patients has decreased by around 30 percent.
Many doctors are already complaining about a sharp decline in the number of patients. Every missing patient reduces the medical income. “I treated an average of 30 patients a day. Six more came to Corona weddings, ”explains a dentist from Hamburg at the“ Bild ”newspaper. “There were 20 to 30 percent fewer patients with heart problems in the clinics. The fear of an infection is apparently greater than that of a heart attack. In the near future there will be more severe cases in the clinics, more patients with pronounced previous damage will come. Of course, this also increases long-term treatment costs and burdens the health system, ”believes Prof. Dietrich Andresen, the German Heart Foundation.