In Greece the relation between patients and physicians is regulated by provisions in various legal acts and not by specific legislation.
The development of legislation relating to patient rights in Greece has undergone four major phases in the last fifteen years.
In the period up to 1992, patient rights in Greece were indirectly addressed through relevant provisions in Civil, Penal, Administrative and Disciplinary Law. In addition, other legislation focused on the obligations of physicians: the Code on the Practice of Medicine (1939) and the Regulation of Medical Deontology (1955) referred to physicians’ obligations to provide all patients with equal care, to respect patients’ dignity and religious freedom and to protect medical secrecy.
In 1992, based on the European Charter of Hospital Patients’ Rights of 1979, broader health care reform legislation contained provisions directly addressing the rights of hospital patients through the Act on Modernization and Organization of the Health System (No. 2071/92, Article 47). However, no provisions were made for the implementation of this legislation.
In 1997 further provisions extended the rights of patients granted in 1992 to the entire population, and provided for the implementation of the legislative provisions. The key features of this legislation as far as patient rights are concerned, involve (a) the introduction of measures to implement the provisions of article 47 of Law 2071/92 (i.e. on the rights of hospital patients provided by the 1992 act); and (b) the extension of these rights also to all patients seeking primary care. The immediate implementation of the patient rights provisions of the 1997 legislation represents a major step forward with respect to improving the quality of health care services provided.
In 2005 the most important change in medical law in Greece took place: the new Code of Ethics was promulgated. This new Code was ratified by statute and therefore is now Law No. 3418/2005. This new Code of Ethics replaced the old Code on the Regulation of Medical Deontology of 1955. The Code of Practice of Medicine of 1939 remains valid.
Greece has no specific regulation of service contracts in its civil code.