Screwdriver attacker of Kaplan urologist gets six years in prison

screwdriver (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The man who stabbed urological surgeon Dr. Marius Gai in the throat, chest and legs with a 12 cm.-long screwdriver last May at Rehovot's Kaplan Medical Center received a six-year prison sentence from the Petah Tikva District Court on Sunday. The middle-aged physician said Eril Shmilov's punishment, which was accompanied by NIS 25,000 in compensation, was "too lenient" and a "disappointment." Shmilov could be released on good behavior in only four years. The 65-year-old Shmilov, who suffered from a prostate condition, stalked Gai and came up from behind him with his weapon after Gai - the deputy director of the urology department - said the surgery the patient demanded could not be immediate. Immediately after the attack, Gai's wife and Kaplan psychiatrist Dr. Nina Gai was called by management to the trauma room where the urologist was fighting for his life. He spent months in rehabilitation at Sheba Medical Center, and evaded paralysis of one side of his body that seemed likely. His wife said he regularly suffered from nightmares in which a dark form attacked him from behind and that he had been traumatized by the attack. He returned to work after undergoing physiotherapy and has resumed performing some surgery, even though he suffered some irreversible physical damage, Nina Gai said. The verdict was written by Judge Ruth Lorch, who said the crime was very serious and that medical staffers who save lives should not be attacked by their patients. The original charge of attempted murder was reduced in a plea bargain to serious assault, but Lorch said the punishment was a "strong deterrent" against violence. The Israel Medical Association (IMA) said it was gratified that the court regarded the crime as serious and had handed down serious punishment compared to leniency in the past. The IMA did not say whether it preferred a longer jail sentence. The victim of the violence said after the court ruling that he had expected the punishment would be "more severe" and that what Shmilov had done was unforgivable. The incident was the most extreme case of violence against doctors in years. In one recent case, a patient's relative attacked a doctor at the Reut rehabilitation hospital and nearby killed him. The relative was found guilty and given only an 18-month prison term. Most other cases of physical violence against medical staffers have consisted of pushing, kicking and fisticuffs. In 2007 alone, there were 315 reported cases of medical staffers being threatened or attacked verbally or physically by patients or their relatives in the hospitals. Prof. Zion Haggai, chairman of the doctors' committee at Kaplan and a colleague of Gai's, said after the attack at his hospital that it could have happened to any other doctor, and demanded that the number of guards be increased in all hospital facilities where there was tension. A few months after the Gai case, the IMA initiated a public service announcement on HOT and YES, calling for an end to such attacks in hospitals and clinics. It showed a patient's relative waiting behind a glass door for the surgeon to tell him how an operation had gone. A heartbeat sound was accompanied by frightening newspaper headlines about yet another attack against doctors. In the end, the surgeon emerged to put his arm around the relative, while the narrator said, "They protect your health. Let's protect them!"