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Doctors at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer halted work for two hours Thursday for assemblies to discuss attacks on two colleagues earlier in the day.
At 4 a.m. in Assaf Harofeh, a patient who was reportedly a drug addict and a relative who had been in the emergency room for two hours began to scream at the medical team to speed up treatment. They demanded that the patient receive pain relievers or a sedative. As the doctors considered how to treat him, the relative attacked one physician, grabbing his neck and throwing him on the floor while cursing him.
Hearing this, the patient rose from his bed, pulled out the infusion tube, cursed and hit shelves holding emergency room equipment. Security personnel arrived and tried to control him. Half an hour later, police arrived and a complaint was filed. The attacking relative was arrested, while the patient remained in the hospital for treatment.
At Sheba, the deputy head of maxillofacial surgery was attacked while examining a patient in the clinic. Another patient and her brother who were unwilling to wait their turn broke into the examination room. Despite the doctor's request that they wait until he finished, the brother pushed the physician and spat at him. He also threw objects at a nurse.
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar denounced the attacks. He said he was sorry that the Knesset had waited until Wednesday for a preliminary reading of a bill that would set a minimal punishment of six months' imprisonment for anyone who attacks medical teams on the job.
MK Haim Oron (Meretz), who proposed the bill, said if it were passed it would deter violence in hospitals and clinics. "By rejecting the bill, the government gives the public the message that doctors' blood is cheap," he said.