The ten plagues of Israel's public health system

Shortage of doctors and hospital beds, unqualified physicians practicing pediatrics and geriatrics, long lines for urgent care, stress and burnout - these are only some of the ills of our public health system

We trust our doctors and expect them to know how to optimally treat our maladies to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, though, the huge pressure medical experts are exposed to prevents them from providing the best possible care to their patients.



That being the case, many patients receive substandard care that lacks the personal touch necessary for proper healing. In the worst-case scenario, the patient finds themselves suffering from malpractice.


Medical consultation
Medical consultation

1. Only 10 minutes per patient

Currently, patients are allotted ten minutes for an appointment with their family physician. There are multiple tasks that the doctor must accomplish in this short amount of time. In addition, the doctor also must fill out various forms of paperwork and issue prescriptions. Ten minutes is simply not enough time for him to carry out his work properly.


2. Unnecessary emergency room referrals

Due to the pressure doctors face, often they send patients to the emergency room needlessly. There, the patient must wait in a crowded waiting room for, what is generally, a long amount of time, all while being exposed to dangerous bacterial infections due to the environment.


According to a Health Ministry report, the ratio of hospital beds is 1.78 per thousand, a three-decade low. The lack of hospital beds in emergency rooms increases overcrowding in the hospital wards and increases the danger of exposure to dangerous viral and bacterial infections.


3. Doctors lacking adequate family health skills

A 2018 study by the Health Ministry showed that 44% of doctors at neighborhood health clinics lack training in the field of family health and only have general healthcare skills.


Such doctors have not undergone a four-year internship in comprehensive family health including internal medicine, emergency care and pediatrics.


4. Deficient specialization for specific sectors

Some sectors of the population, the elderly, infants and children, visit the doctor more than others. Ideally, doctors specialize in family medicine for specific age groups. Doctors without the proper training should not be engaged in geriatrics of pediatrics.


5. Treatment based primarily on economic considerations

Often, a doctor recommends a specific treatment that requires the approval of a senior doctor. At times, the treatment is not approved due to its high cost and the patient is referred to a cheaper, but less effective, treatment.


A patient in such a situation should seek a second opinion from another medical expert.


6. Long waits for urgent diagnostic tests

Due to a lack in manpower or equipment, patients are often given appointments weeks, or even months, later than would be optimal.


For example, waiting too long for a MRI or CT scan can result in discovering a problem too late for the treatment to be successful, or lessen its chance for success, endangering patients' lives.


Stress, burnout
Stress, burnout


7. Doctors suffering from burnout

The doctor-patient ration in Israel has been declining steadily in recent years. The doctors that are working are subject to immense stress and it has a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health.


8. Lack of proper medical documentation

Medical documentation is crucial for follow-up medical care and monitoring a patient's condition. A patient doesn’t know whether the doctor is writing down all the necessary information that can help shed light on their condition at a later date, which can lead to malpractice or redundancies.


9. Lack of understanding consent forms

When asked to sign a form, many patients assume that it merely a bureaucratic procedure and rarely go through the effort of reading what it is they are signing. But they could be ignoring certain risks inherent in a procedure that they know little about. Patients need to understand exactly what it is they are signing.


10. Online chat with doctors

Some Health Maintenance Organizations allow for clients to chat with a doctor online without going through the hassle of leaving the house and waiting in line. While for many people this may be quite convenient, it entails certain risks. Without ever having seen the patient, it is difficult for a doctor to really diagnose their problem and provide the right care.


Quality medical care can only take place in the physical presence of a medical expert knowledgeable in the specific field relating to the patient's complaint.


Attorney Amikam Harlap is an expert on tort claims, medical malpractice, accidents and insurance at Amikam Harlap & Partners.





פרסום ראשון: 04.25.19, 16:37
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