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Rambam fight 224.88.(Photo by: Channel 10)
'Medical institutions could refuse treatment to violent patients'
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
Three-quarters of hospital emergency room staff experienced physical or verbal violence at the hands of patients or their relatives.
Three-quarters of hospital emergency room staff experienced physical or verbal violence at the hands of patients or their relatives during the year before a study on the subject was conducted in 2005, according to a report issued Sunday by Prof. Simha Landau of the Hebrew University's criminology institute. The report is the basis for the Israel Medical Association's support for a private member's bill by MK Alex Miller that will be discussed in the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Monday, after it was previously approved in its preliminary reading. The doctors and nurses questioned said that in the vast majority of cases, they not only witnessed violence against colleagues, but were actually the victims of violence themselves. While the threats were verbal in 29 percent of the cases, there was actual physical violence in 16% of the cases. The author noted that verbal violence can often be as frightening as physical violence. The bill says that a patient or relative who carries out physical or verbal violence against a medical staffer or causes intentional damage against property in a medical facility will not receive medical treatment in that institution during a set period in the future, even if his behavior changes for the better. Anyone who repeats his violence within a year of being warned will not receive medical care in that institution for a period of three months in the event of verbal violence, and up to six months in the event of physical violence (except in a medical emergency). The committee has invited two doctors, one from Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin and the other from a Clalit Health Services clinic in Herzliya, who have recently been victims of physical violence on the job. The IMA has repeatedly demanded that the Health Ministry take action against violence in medical institutions, particularly by allocating funds for hiring round-the-clock security guards, but says nothing has been done. The medical association even prepared a report several years ago with a list of recommendations to reduce violence against doctors and nurses, but maintains that those recommendations were ignored.
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