Ben-Yizri takes steps toward stemming assaults on medical staff

Kaplan doctor attacked by patient may not regain use of arm.

yaakov ben-yizri 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
yaakov ben-yizri 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri - who voted in October against a private member's bill advocating stiffer punishments for assaulting medical staffers - has appointed an interministerial committee to present a working paper on how to reduce violence in the hospitals and community clinics. His personal spokesman Tal Harel, who refused on Thursday to comment on his boss's refusal to back the October bill, proposed by Meretz MK Haim Oron, explained Sunday that Ben-Yizri "couldn't vote against the position of the coalition in view of strong opposition to the bill by the Justice Ministry and the State Attorney's Office." The Oron bill would have set a mandatory minimum sentence of six months' imprisonment, and recommended a six-year prison sentence for anyone who physically attacked medical staffers, but the officials opposed a reduction in the power of judges to set punishments - even though the bill said the court could reduce the six-month jail term in special circumstances. Ben-Yizri decided to set up the committee in the wake of a vicious attack last Wednesday on 58-year-old Dr. Marius Gai, deputy head of the urology department at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, by a 64-year-old outpatient. Dr. Nina Gai, his wife and a veteran Kaplan psychiatrist, was at the other end of the hospital campus when she was notified that something was wrong. She said Sunday that the attacker, who suffered from a chronic kidney stone problem, wanted surgery, while the urologists said other treatment was more appropriate. Her husband suffered damage to his spinal cord, shoulder and abdomen, and has been upgraded to moderate condition from the serious but stable condition in which he was admitted to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. He was admitted to Sheba because he needed neurosurgery, and his own hospital lacks such a department. His condition improved after the operation, but his wife said it was not known how much paralysis he would suffer. Although the urologist was paralyzed on one side of his body, he has begun to move the affected foot a bit and has feeling in it. However, it was not clear whether he would recover the use of his arm. The victim told his wife after the incident that he was shocked and couldn't understand why a patient who had been under treatment for some time in his department would suddenly attack him viciously. The attacker, a Rehovot resident, later gave himself up to the police. Ben-Yizri's personal spokesman said that while the minister had opposed the private member's bill, he instructed ministry officials to look into the possibility of initiating a government bill to deter such violence. Harel charged that Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar (whom he referred to as "Mr. Blachar") disclosed that Ben-Yizri voted against the Oron Bill "only to enjoy a small headline in the media instead of bringing about calm and finding joint solutions."