OLG Schleswig stops the Dental Association of Schleswig-Holstein
(jur). The Schleswig-Holstein Dental Association may not link the practice search offered on its website with a "code of honor". This misleads consumers and discriminates against dentists who have not signed the “Code of Honor”, as the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Schleswig ruled in an urgent decision announced on Thursday, May 19, 2016 (file no .: 6 U 22/15).
The Dental Association offers patients a practice search on its website. You can search by name, city or postcode, subject areas and additional qualifications. In addition, the search criterion “Code of Honor” was previously included and was already preset in the search mask. Patients who did not remove the check mark were therefore only shown to dentists who had signed the code.
The "Code of Honor of the Dental Association of Schleswig-Holstein" was passed in 2014 at the Chamber Assembly. In ten “guiding principles”, the signatories commit themselves to fairness towards patients, employees and colleagues as well as compliance with the already binding regulations for hygiene or further training.
The "Code of Honor" also contains health policy statements, in particular on competition and the priority of freelance practice. Specifically, it says: "I do not conclude individual contracts with health insurance companies, private health insurers or service providers, because such contracts encourage cheap medicine, dumping prices and deterioration in quality. For me, owner-managed practice is the form of practice that best meets my patients' needs. I reject chain practices and practices in the form of corporations. "
The complaining dentist had not signed this. He asked his chamber not to use the search criteria “code of honor” anymore. Like the district court in Kiel, the Schleswig Higher Regional Court now also agreed. The Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Dentists has already complied with this; it no longer uses the criterion.
The OLG explained that the search criterion "code of honor" would give undersigned dentists an undue advantage in the competition for patients. The impression is given that the “code of honor” is just as important a criterion for patients as qualifications.
"This impression is misleading and does not correspond to the real conditions," complained the judges in Schleswig. In any case, all statements of the "Code of Honor" concerning the treatment of patients are "a matter of course in medical and professional law, which, for legal reasons, cannot be used to advertise in isolation".
The fact that users of the search could remove the checkmark from the search criterion "code of honor" does not change the legal assessment. Because the patients trusted that the dental association "made the search objectively and appropriately", emphasized the OLG in its judgment of May 12, 2016. (mwo / fle)