Not on the house

Home visits cost doctors money.

May 30, 2010 09:35
2 minute read.
doctor 88

doctor 88. (photo credit: )

A Jerusalem primary care physician who is among the minority who make house calls to his patients is getting frustrated. All too often, he gets municipal parking tickets when he feeds the meter but the home visits run longer than he expected. E., who came on aliya from the US 12 years ago, told In Jerusalem that he visits his patients at home on an average of once a month.

“In the beginning, I ordered and received a sign for my car from the Israel Medical Association (IMA) that read ‘On-Duty Physician,’ and I used it each time. The first time I got a parking ticket, I wrote to the municipality saying that I was a doctor on duty, and they canceled the fine. After that, I realized that it’s just smarter to put money in the parking meter and not have to waste time defending myself against City Hall each time.”

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However, he continues,  “It happens that the house call runs over the time I’ve paid for, and I get a ticket. In at least two additional cases I’ve written to the municipality, and they’ve canceled the fine.”

But last month, a very elderly patient of his was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem after being severely injured in a home fall. He found out two weeks later and went to the Ein Kerem campus with her personal medical file for the doctors and visited her – on his own initiative and without compensation. Parking outside the campus, where parking cards are required, he placed the IMA sign in his car and paid for the parking stub. As he returned to the car late, he found an NIS 100 fine on the windshield.

He decided to go to court, where he was told by the prosecutor that according to the law, this situation is like that of a worker who needs a parking space to unload merchandise and is thus required to pay.

“To me, a doctor making a house call is not exactly like a person making a delivery,”  says E. “Growing up in the US, I remember the MD license plates given to doctors which, presumably, got them out of parking fees all the time, not just for work-related duties. I think the municipality would do well to recognize and exempt doctors on house calls from regular parking fees. The loss in revenue would be minuscule, assuming that the doctors wouldn’t abuse the privilege.”

E. says he knows numerous physicians who get parking fines while seeing patients and taking longer than they’ve paid for but have given up and paid them.

Asked to comment, the municipal spokesman said, “In life-and-death cases, one must apply for a parking ticket cancellation, and it will be given favorable consideration. In non-emergency cases, doctors must pay for parking and for parking tickets like anyone else.”

An IMA lawyer said there were no regulations regarding parking tickets for on-duty doctors. “In cases where the doctor was on an emergency call, he can write to the IMA, and sometimes we succeed in getting it canceled. Every municipality has its own practices. Maybe it is worth getting uniform regulations on this matter,” she said, adding that the IMA gets numerous complaints about parking tickets issued during emergency care.

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