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Dr. Marius Gai, the Kaplan Medical Center urological surgeon who was seriously injured when an elderly patient stabbed him in the chest and legs with a screwdriver six weeks ago, returned to the Rehovot hospital on Sunday for the first time.
Gai, who is no longer paralyzed, can now walk but won't be able to resume his work at Kaplan for at least two months. In the meantime, he is undergoing physiotherapy there on his affected arm and leg.
Gai was greeted warmly by all and with tears by some coworkers when he arrived. He greeted a colleague who had found him lying on the floor bleeding after 65-year-old Eril Shpilov of Rehovot attacked him after complaining that he would not be sent for surgery for his urinary problems; Gai said medications and not surgery were the necessary treatment. The assault was one of the worst incidents of violence by patients or relatives against doctors in many years.
"I returned to Kaplan with huge emotions and mixed feelings," Gai said. "I was very moved by the warm reception of the Kaplan Hospital 'family,' of which I have been a member for many years. I hope that I will return speedily to work. It will be a great challenge for me to return to the surgical theater."
He voiced his gratitude to Kaplan medical teams that initially treated him and to Sheba Medical Center that continued the care and performed rehabilitation. Kaplan staffers visited him regularly at Sheba. "From their visits, I absorbed much energy for coping with my condition."
The organization of independent physicians working for the Maccabi Health Services health fund decided on Sunday that due to repeated acts of violence against them, they will be entitled to refuse treatment to violent patients. A number of criminal files involving attacks had been closed by the Israel Police due to "lack of public interest," the organization said.
The group declared that they would file a complaint with the police after every incident of physical violence and would not agree to such closing of files on this basis; a complaint to the Attorney-General's Office would be considered.
Some 3,000 independent doctors work for Maccabi. The organization will help every physician who is attacked to file a complaint and provide a phone line, e-mail and fax to accept complaints from physicians about incidents of violence.