Moshe Ophir
Moshe Ophir, whose wife Dr. Galit Saada-Ophir died in childbirth, with his twins sons in 2008. Photo by Eliahu Ben Igal
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The Health Ministry may launch disciplinary proceedings against two doctors and a nurse at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, who are suspected of gross negligence in the death of a 37-year-old woman the day after she gave birth.

Dr. Galit Saada-Ophir, a Hebrew University sociologist, bled to death in Hadassah's obstetrics ward a day after giving birth to twins by Caesarean section.

The pathologist's report stated she died from internal bleeding following the surgery. A committee headed by the director of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Haemek Hospital, Afula, Prof. Eliezer Shalev, determined that there had been a series of failures in how the hospital handled the patient.

The Health Ministry then appointed a hearing committee, headed by the ministry's ombudsman, who summoned the two doctors and the nurse involved in Saada-Ophir's care.

Four members of the five-person hearing committee believed the medical team bore personal responsibility. The one dissenting committee member said that only various hospital bodies, such as the department and the nursing management, should be considered responsible, because the shift was understaffed on the night Saada-Ophir bled to death.

The Health Ministry director general needs to approve the committee's recommendation before disciplinary proceedings can begin.

The hearing committee found the department's head nurse lacked the "skills, training and experience" for her post, and had been unable to properly assess Saada-Ophir's worsening condition after the doctors saw her at midnight.

The two doctors erred, the committee determined, by not taking post-surgical bleeding into consideration in their diagnosis.

The committee said it accepted the doctors' position that the woman's symptoms could have been caused by her severe pain, "but alertness and devotion from the doctor in charge would have allowed more simple, basic tests to be conducted during the night, and enabled identifying the real problem and giving prompt treatment that would have saved the woman's life."

The committee also found that the doctors and nurse were working under unreasonable conditions. "Preoccupied with the other tasks of the night shift, they did not return to check the patient, assuming she had responded to the treatment they gave her," it stated.

Hadassah management said it had not yet received the report and therefore could not respond to it. "The process in the Health Ministry has not yet been completed. When it is, Hadassh will respect the ministry's decisions," it said.