At an emergency meeting convened by heads of the Israel Medical Association on
Monday, they demanded that the number of hospital intensive care units be
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman warned Prime Minister and
Health Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that action must be taken immediately,
because seriously ill patients were not getting optimal treatment; instead, they
were being treated in regular departments with lessadvanced equipment and fewer
nurses and doctors, he said.
Only 2 percent of hospital beds in Israel
are in intensive care, compared to 5% in Europe and 10% in the US – and that
does not take into account the shortage of general hospital beds, said
Israel is rated lowest in the supply of intensive care units in
the OECD, which Israel joined last year, he added.
Asked to comment, the
Health Ministry said that in the last few months, it had reached an agreement
with the Treasury to increase the number of hospitals beds by 1,000 in the next
six years, with a quarter of them intensive care beds.
“All that is left
is to implement the agreements while ensuring balance in the health system and
the improvement in patient care,” the spokeswoman said.
Dr. Eran Segal,
chairman of the Israel Society for General Intensive Care, said that every day,
doctors were forced to make decisions related to patients who needed intensive
care but couldn’t get it due to the shortages.
“When a patient requires
intensive care and is put in a regular ward, with one nurse for every 12
patients instead of one per two patients, the mortality rate will be higher and
the chances for successful treatment lower,” said Segal.
He added that
this week, 800 patients were attached to respirators in the country’s hospitals,
but only 300 were in intensive care units.
“Whoever thinks that treating
the remaining 500 in regular departments is acceptable, is wrong and misleads
the public,” he said. “It will clearly cost lives.”
According to Dr.
Yoram Klein, chairman of the Israel Trauma Society, the next mass catastrophe in
Israel is likely not to be biological or radioactive, but to involve trauma, and
the hospitals will be unable to cope.
Dr. Motti Klein, head of intensive
care at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, said the real mass
catastrophe was the lack of suitable facilities thanks to the lack of Treasury
At Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, there are
only two physician specialists in pediatric intensive care, and one is about to
retire; in Nahariya, there is only one; north of Hadera, there are just three.
At Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, the pediatric intensive care unit was
shut down. At Sheba and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centers, only half the number
of needed specialists are working.
“The Health Ministry clicks its tongue
and looks heavenward,” said Dr. Elhanan Nahum, chairman of the Israel Society
for Pediatric Intensive Care.
“There is plenty of money for roads that
lead nowhere or funding for yeshiva students,” he went on. “If we don’t solve
this problem now, we won’t meet any European or American standard. Those who
really pay the price are children.”
In the event of a major earthquake,
the hospitals will be woefully unprepared to treat the seriously injured,
declared Col. Dr. Ariel Bar of the Home Front Command.
at the Ramat Gan meeting who asked to remain anonymous said that
“decision-makers tell us to ‘do the best medicine with the lowest budget,’ and
if necessary, people will die. But they must die quietly, without anybody
knowing that we are killing the patients quietly. It is, in effect, euthanasia!”