Which makes a doctor look very unprofessional

Corona mask certificate: playing with fire

Mainz / Berlin. A report on "tagesschau.de" raises questions about the legal consequences of professional and criminal law that medical courtesy certificates can have in order to avoid mouth and nose protection.

According to this, some doctors, who are named as supporters of the “Doctors for Enlightenment” initiative, are to issue certificates if they wish, with which the obligation to wear a protective mask can be avoided. “Doctors for Enlightenment” acts as a critic of the public Corona protective measures, in particular the mask requirement.


More than 40 of these doctors had been written to by the editors of the “Report Mainz” magazine, 19 had replied and “none of them refused to issue such a certificate for ethical reasons. Some wrote directly that you could get such a certificate from them. "

The background is clear: For example, according to Paragraph 2 of the Corona Protection Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, people are exempt from the extensive mask requirement "who cannot wear a face-to-face mask for medical reasons". Comparable formulations can also be found in the Corona regulations of other federal states.

As the ARD report goes on to say, the reporters - initially without identifying themselves as journalists - also called in personally in several practices "and received a certificate releasing them just because of the alleged rejection of the mask requirement". Two doctors had "not even spoken to the supposed patients", "let alone examined them". Another doctor is said to have offered by email to send the certificate after transferring 50 euros. "The patient should inform him of the diagnosis in writing in advance."

Up to two years in prison

The Berlin lawyer and specialist lawyer for social and medical law, Professor Martin Stellpflug, explains the legal situation across from the “Ärzte Zeitung”. In addition to criminal law paragraph 278 (“Issuing incorrect health certificates”), there is also a threat of professional sanctions. Paragraph 278 binds criminal liability (up to two years imprisonment or a fine) to two conditions:

  • knowingly issuing an "incorrect" certificate
  • "For use by a government agency or insurance company".

Both conditions are met in the cases described by "Report Mainz", according to Stellpflug. Submission to an authority would be considered if, in an acute conflict situation, the police were called to refuse mask protection and the certificate was then presented.

By the way: The deception of an authority or insurance company about one's own state of health by means of a medical certificate is also punishable (Section 279 of the Criminal Code “Use of incorrect health certificates”); however, there is only a maximum of one year imprisonment or a fine.

A mask incompatibility arbitrarily attested by a doctor as a result of a corona protest can also have serious consequences under professional law. Stellpflug refers to paragraph 25 of the model professional code, according to which health certificates are to be issued “with the necessary care” and “to the best of our knowledge”. In addition, paragraph 3 of paragraph 2 is relevant, according to which the conscientious exercise of the profession requires "in particular the observation of the recognized state of medical knowledge". Of course, there could be no question of this in the case of a medically unfounded certificate. Professional sanctions by the State Medical Association ranged from a complaint to fines - “in Berlin, 100,000 euros” - to charges before the professional court.

Thin ice

The lawyer and medical lawyer Dr. Daniel Geiger also points out that, because the issuing of false health certificates is codified as a criminal offense, initial suspicion is sufficient to call the public prosecutor to the scene. "As soon as there are indications that a criminal offense could exist, this can trigger a preliminary investigation."

A doctor who has signed a medical certificate that cannot be justified, Geiger continues, does not use the excuse that he did not know that the certificate was intended to be presented to an authority - and not to the landlord or employer, for example. Already accepting that the paper could also serve as an excuse to an authority is enough to justify the criminal liability.

In the event of a criminal conviction, there is also the risk of withdrawal of the license to practice medicine.