Health Ministry: End corridor hospitalizations within 5 years

"Usually committees are for dragging things out, but we took this issue seriously because it relates to the core of the health system," said Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman and Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa (photo credit: HEALTH MINISTRY)
Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman and Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa
(photo credit: HEALTH MINISTRY)
The Ministry of Health committed to putting an end to patients lying in hospital ward corridors within five years. The pledge on Thursday came after a ministry committee submitted recommendations to improve hospitalization in internal medicine wards across the country’s hospitals.
Each year, Israelis are hospitalized approximately 330,000 times in 110 internal medicine wards. At the end of 2018, there were 3,983 standard beds in internal medicine wards. The number of beds per 1,000 inhabitants has declined by 15% since 2005, and now stands at just 0.44 beds.
While the winter season often means the hospitalization of additional patients, wards are stretched beyond capacity throughout the year. Approximately one-quarter of patients on the wards are cases of re-hospitalization.
Chaired by Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa, the committee was charged with examining solutions to improve internal ward hospitalizations in public hospitals, including tackling ward workloads, staff exhaustion, and the need for significant procedural changes.
Slamming corridor hospitalizations as “unacceptable” and constituting a “violation of human dignity and the basic right to privacy,” the committee recommended that the Health Ministry director-general issue a directive prohibiting the hospitalization of patients outside hospital wards or rooms within five years.
In order to implement this directive, a dedicated multi-year budget should be allocated for the renovation, construction, and adaptation of internal medicine wards to meet the standards of a newly-constructed department.
The committee recommended that wards be made up of small hospital rooms designed for one or two patients, with a toilet and shower for each room, enabling patient isolation where necessary.
Rooms should also allow the addition of a third bed in case of hospital occupancy exceeding capacity. Internal medicine wards should be capable of holding 38 beds in total, the committee added, including an additional room suitable for up to six patients requiring more frequent treatment.
“I believe that the results and recommendations of the committee can bring about a revolution in internal medicine in Israel,” said Tur-Kaspa. “The symbol of internal medicine wards is the elderly patient in the corridor. This is a rare opportunity to change the situation.”
Other recommendations made by the committee included increasing the medical staff allocated to each internal medicine ward, making hospital discharge procedures more efficient, and encouraging young doctors to see internal medicine wards as their professional home and training them to become experienced department managers.