In Switzerland, to visit even general family doctor it is normally required to make an appointment in advance that usually means to make a phone call. The chat with the receptionist is normally quite exhaustive, with them asking to describe all symptoms before they schedule the time. This conversation invariably must be done in German, even if the doctor can also speak English and often other languages when you finally get to the one.

Does the receptionist have the right to refuse the entry if the patient refuses the long conversation, restricting the talk to the fact that they are seeking medical attention? This is most likely to happen due language barrier but I can imagine it could be also other reasons.

P.S. The question is obviously about if the clinic can refuse medical help on the grounds that the visitor is not talking to receptionist. While there may be legitimate reasons to refuse the help, not all reasons are legitimate.

  • If you politely directly ask for an appointment, I don't think she'll refuse. The reason the chat is usually lengthy is to avoid needless consultations as well as to determine the urgency of your call.
    – PMF
    Jan 23 at 10:19
  • you do realize that most people in the swiss speak fluent English and/or French? You just have to ask them if they could try english.
    – Trish
    Jan 23 at 12:21
  • 3
    Do you think you have a "right to an appointment" with a specific doctor? Why do you think they cannot refuse you for (non discriminatory) reasons they see fit?
    – nvoigt
    Jan 23 at 15:32
  • 5
    In most western societies private citizens have a "right" to choose whether to talk to someone, or not talk to someone without government interference. The receptionist in this case is likely just following procedures that the clinic has implemented to gather information up front. I don't really see a useful legal question in this. (push-button automated phone menus annoy me, do I have a right to not engage with them? Of course!) Jan 23 at 17:20
  • 1
    What the heck!? Why was this closed? This is a legitimate general legal question.
    – Kyralessa
    Jan 31 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


There is no requirement in law that a specific doctor needs to grant you an appointment.

You are free to chose a doctor you want. A doctor is free to chose their patients. They can refuse you for any reason and many do, simply because they cannot take on any more patients.

"Refuses to give information to ascertain urgency of problem" is certainly a good enough reason, it sounds purely functional and not in any way like unfair discrimination.

Only if you are physically present and in immediate need of medical assistance, a doctor may not send you away without treating you. They may however treat you to the best of their ability and call an abulance to take you to the hospital emergency room if they feel treating you is not in their medical capacity.

That said, I have not met a doctor in Germany who would, capacity permitting, not give you an appointment even if you don't want to explain the details over the phone. But since the urgency is unclear, you may end up at the very back of the line.

  • 6
    One might also add that the receptionist is bound by the same confidentiality rules as the doctor, and would handle records and billing anyway. Which includes the diagnosis at least in general terms.
    – o.m.
    Jan 24 at 6:05

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