The violence at hospitals demands an immediate governmental response to ensure the safety of medical staff members. Nothing is more just than the protest of the medical staff, who have been dealing for years with violence on a daily basis. Hundreds of cases of physical violence and thousands of cases of verbal violence are reported to the Health Ministry each year. Many other cases, including verbal abuse, threats against medical staff members and destruction of medical equipment aren’t even reported. This is an intolerable state of affairs.
The current protest, which took the form of a demonstration and work on a limited basis on Thursday, was triggered by the violent incident that took place at Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus, last Monday. Dozens of relatives of a patient evacuated to the hospital in critical condition broke into the ICU upon being informed of his death, attacked staff members, wounded two of them and damaged equipment. This was not the only violent incident last week. At the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya as well, family members of a patient attacked hospital security guards, injuring several, upon being notified of their loved one’s passing. Yet another incident took place at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, where a child’s father accosted ICU staff members and threatened to kill them. The violence at hospitals is first and foremost an expression of the violence of Israeli society, which finds expression in many other arenas. And yet, the state must recognize its responsibility for the lack of action in this field.
The best proof of this is the fact that the steps necessary to deal with the problem have been known for four and half years, since a Health Ministry commission filed its recommendation for dealing with violence against medical staff. In 2017, following the murder of nurse Tova Carrero by a patient at a Clalit health maintenance organization in Holon where she worked, then-Health Minister Yaacov Litzman appointed a commission headed by Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef. Half a year later the commission submitted its recommendations, including: Installing technological measures and cameras connected to security hotlines, expanding security staff powers, harsher punishment, stationing a police officer regularly at hospitals, and improving psychological support for workers hurt by violence. None of the recommendations has been implemented.
- Israeli Physicians Go on 24-hour Strike in Protest of Violence Against Medical Teams
- Israel Shelved 2017 Plan to Fight Violence in Hospitals
- Relatives Attack Medical Staff, Destroy Equipment After Patient Dies in Jerusalem
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz may have announced his support for the demands of the medical staff, but right now fewer statements and more action are needed, all the more so as what needs to be done is well known to the Health Ministry. The Health, Finance, and Public Security ministries must expeditiously implement the recommendations of the Mor Yosef commission and provide a safe and protected work environment for medical workers.
We cannot wait for another murder to take place before implementing the recommendations of that commission.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.