Israeli Hospitals' Emergency Treatment Improving but Still Way to Go

The gaps are wide among facilities, but treatment for stroke and heart attacks has greatly improved.

An empty ward at Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva
Benjamin Adam

Emergency services at Israeli hospitals are improving, even if the gaps among facilities are wide and the performance still lags international standards, the Health Ministry said in a report.

The wait for an emergency CT scan varies from 112 minutes at Haifa’s Bnei Zion Medical Center to 23 minutes at Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, according to the report, which compares 19 Israeli hospitals.

At Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, the wait for a CT scan after suspected brain damage is 106 minutes and 24 minutes respectively.

Despite an improvement over the previous report, the average wait for an emergency CT scan at all the hospitals is 55 minutes, compared with the international standard of 25 minutes.

Catheterization to open blocked arteries following a severe heart attack is also a time-sensitive procedure – the sooner it happens the less damage to the heart. In Britain, 92 percent of heart attack patients reportedly undergo catheterization within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.

In Israel, this number is 86 percent, having risen from 68 percent in 2013.

Another key metric is the percentage of patients discharged from the hospital after a heart attack with a prescription for regular doses of aspirin. Cardiologists recommend aspirin to reduce the chance of a fatal heart attack by 20 percent.

The Israeli health authorities aimed for 95 percent of patients to receive aspirin prescriptions after discharge from the hospital in such cases, and in the event 97 percent was achieved.

Timely treatment of stroke victims has improved dramatically. Treatment for stroke, the third most prevalent cause of death in Israel, is considered effective when an intravenous drug is administered to break up the blood clot in the brain within eight hours.

In 2015, 857 Israelis were treated in time, compared with 305 in 2014. The leaders in the field were Hadassah Ein Karem, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, Carmel Medical Center in Haifa and Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

This year’s report includes geriatric hospitals for the first time. Various categories in around 40 such facilities were examined.

These included nutritional assessment within 36 hours after admittance to identify malnutrition, a full nutritional workup within five days, assessment of pain within 12 hours of admittance, and functional assessment after surgery to repair a broken hip. The greatest gaps were seen in functional and pain assessments.

For the first time, this year’s report includes an evaluation of 18 psychiatric departments following a Health Ministry report on patient experience in such facilities late last year. The greatest gaps were in crafting a treatment plan, which ranged from 20 percent of cases in Abarbanel psychiatric hospital to 98 percent at Hadassah Ein Karem’s psychiatric department.