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SG Hamburg: Costs are included in lump sum payments
Hospitals must provide or pay a sign language interpreter for the deaf. Because with the usual flat-rate bills, the interpreter costs are covered, as the Social Court (SG) Hamburg decided in a recently published judgment of March 24, 2017 (file number: S 48 KR 1082/14 ZVW).
In the event of a dispute, a 73-year-old deaf woman was operated on in the gynecological department of a hospital in Hamburg in 2010. Even during the preliminary examinations, the clinic had arranged several appointments with a sign language interpreter to accompany the assessment, clarification and follow-up.
In its accounting, the clinic indicated "deafness" as a secondary diagnosis. In total, she billed the health insurance company 3,668 euros.
After the treatment, the sign language interpreter charged the hospital 454 euros - 55 euros per hour plus travel costs. The hospital did not want to pay for this. The interpreter was not working for the clinic, but for the patient. The clinic has certified the need for the sign language interpreter so that the patient can submit the costs to her health insurance company.
But the hospital is responsible for the costs, the SG Hamburg now judged. It is a "general hospital service" insofar as a sign language interpreter is necessary for the treatment. Overall, this is only the case with a few treatments. However, the average costs for this were priced in when the case flat rates were set. Therefore, they are compensated with the package and borne by the hospital.
Since 2014, the use of a sign language interpreter can be specified in the hospital bill and "coded" with a separate key. However, the SG Hamburg now emphasized that this code key does not increase the billing amount. This confirms that the costs of a sign language interpreter are already covered by the remuneration for the main diagnosis - and were already before 2014 in the event of a dispute. If the remuneration calculated for this is insufficient, it is up to the hospital and health insurance associations to negotiate new remuneration.
The fact that health insurers may also be obliged to pay insured persons a sign language interpreter does not change the hospital's responsibility. The relevant regulations regulated the obligations of the health insurance companies towards their insured; this has nothing to do with the hospital's obligations. mwo / fle