Hanover (dpa) - Police officers with submachine guns in their arms at the main entrance, other armed officials with helmets and bulletproof vests on the elevators or in the emergency room: At the Hannover Medical School (MHH), scenes from a cinema thriller have been playing for days.
The reason is a patient who is said to be involved in a bloody clan feud over drug deals. The alleged Mafia member had already flown in from Montenegro on February 7 to have his gunshot wounds sustained at the end of January. According to his own statements, the director of trauma surgery only learned when the man arrived that the police had guarded him during his stay in the clinic in his home country and called in the Hanover police.
According to the doctor, two officers initially protected the patient, which was neither rare nor unusual. Only when the special task force was called in did the attending doctor inform the clinic management, which in turn informed the Ministry of Science as the supervisory authority. Now criticism is pounding from all sides on the renowned state-run university clinic.
According to media reports in Montenegro, the perpetrators fired more than 20 times on Igor K.'s SUV, seven bullets seriously injured the 35-year-old. When asked about the treatment of such injuries, the MHH trauma surgeon should have asked, says Jens Jusczak, who has been researching medical tourism at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences for years. "You could and should have rejected such a patient." In view of the high costs for safety and the image disadvantages, the patient became a boomerang for the German clinic.
The MHH main building with shops and bistros is like a station concourse. Seriously ill with a face mask in a bathrobe, next to them the uniformed police officers. Many do not understand why Igor K. is treated in Hanover, of all places. "It doesn't belong here," says a 61-year-old visitor. A woman who accompanies her husband to an outpatient appointment speaks of a "queasy feeling". It was only on Tuesday that the trauma surgeon and other senior doctors spoke on the MHH intranet. At this point there was already irritation and anger among the 7600 employees who wondered why such a questionable patient had been admitted in the first place.
"We didn't bring him here, we didn't roll out a red carpet for him," emphasized Lower Saxony's Interior Minister Boris Pistorius. The police operation was coordinated with the Federal Criminal Police Office and served above all to protect bystanders such as employees, patients and visitors. "He is neither a threat nor is he a criminal or wanted in Germany," says the SPD politician.
The taxpayer association demands that the immense costs for the police operation be charged to the private patient or his "clan family" if this is legally possible. The 35-year-old's wife, who lives in a nearby hotel, is also believed to be guarded. MPs in Hanover demand clarification from the red and black state government. There is even talk of suspected money laundering.
According to information from the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, the treatment costs around 90,000 euros. The amount was transferred to a special MHH account for foreign patients after a cost estimate.
An additional confusion on Monday was the statement by a Hanover lawyer that it was a mix-up. His client's name was Igor K., but he had no criminal record and had nothing to do with the mafia, said Harald Lemke-Küch. However, the safety authorities continue to believe that the patient and the environment must be protected.
Self-paying patients from abroad only make up a fraction of the treatment cases in German clinics. The highest level of discretion is maintained with celebrities or politicians. The Charité in Berlin does not want to comment on the topic. The LML clinic in Munich explains: «The decision whether a patient is treated with us or not depends on a variety of criteria. In general, there is no risk to other patients and employees. »
According to the evaluation of the medical tourism research center at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, around 247,500 patients from 177 countries were treated inpatient or outpatient in Germany in 2017 and generated revenues of around 1.2 billion euros for the German healthcare system. Newer numbers are not yet available. According to Juszczak, there has been a “International Patients” working group in which about 30 of the largest German clinics regularly exchange information. According to the researcher, the Hannover Medical School has not participated in the meetings for several years.
Report "Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung" from August 13, 2020
Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences: Medical Tourism Research Center