Sharon's Treatment Comes Under Fire

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Senior physicians yesterday raised additional questions about the treatment Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received following his stroke two weeks ago. This includes the decisions to administer blood thinners - which are believed to have led to the second, more serious stroke - to perform a heart catheterization, and to perform two brain operations following his hospitalization Wednesday.

However other leading doctors told Haaretz yesterday that Sharon's treatment had been reasonable and it was "cheap" to deal with such questions while doctors were trying to save the prime minister's life.

One senior physician said the situation "looked like an absurd medical drama. On the one hand, I have the feeling Sharon suffered from `over treatment' involving the blood thinners, for example, and on the other hand they didn't manage to prevent him from taking medical risks by not receiving proper rest and returning to work."

A senior physician also questioned the decision to allow Sharon to remain at his home in the Negev, adding that he was surprised a helicopter had not been put at Sharon's disposal or a senior doctor kept at his side.

Another senior physician said he would have recommended a month's rest to a person who had suffered a stroke. "Perhaps we should learn to implement some permanent directives in such cases," he added, suggesting that senior figures be required to follow medical advice in the same way senior leaders are required to have security protection.

A senior neurologist called the second surgery performed on Sharon on Friday "unnecessary," citing research that surgery under such conditions does not improve the patient's prognosis. The neurologist said he believed Sharon was suffering from `VIP syndrome', "that out of a desire to help a senior public figure physicians do things that might be unnecessary and may carry potential risks."

A senior neurologist at a major Israeli hospital said the first surgery was "heroic," because most patients with such bleeding would not be operated on, "but I understand they did so because it was the prime minister. At some stage you have to think if you want to leave a patient in a terrible functional state to save his life."

A number of physicians told Haaretz they wondered about the wisdom of performing the heart catheterization on Sharon. The prime minister had been advised to undergo the procedure to repair the birth defect of a hole in his heart through which doctors said the blood clot had traveled to his brain and caused the first stroke. But Professor Martin Rabbai, head of neurosurgery at Assaf Harofeh Hospital said the heart catheterization was "not recommended," since it had not been proven that the blood clot moved through the hole in his heart to his brain. "On the contrary," Rabbai said, for a man Sharon's age "it is advisable not to touch it."

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