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Beersheba hospital to strike over assault of doctor by patient’s parents

Soroka says its staff will convene Wednesday morning for two hours to discuss the incident, with non-urgent surgeries paused; full activity to resume 10 a.m.

A screenshot taken from a video showing parents of a toddler assault a doctor at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba over his refusal to expedite treatment for their son, January 16, 2023. (Twitter/Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot taken from a video showing parents of a toddler assault a doctor at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba over his refusal to expedite treatment for their son, January 16, 2023. (Twitter/Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba said it will strike on Wednesday for two hours in protest of an incident Monday in which a pediatrician was physically attacked by the parents of a 15-month-old son who was being treated at the hospital’s children’s clinic.

In a video shared online of the violent incident, the young couple can be seen pinning an older man to the floor as bystanders intervene and try to end the attack.

The doctor, Dr. Yariv Fruchtman, was injured in his face as a result of the assault and was treated in the hospital’s emergency room. The couple’s toddler is expected to be handed to relatives or welfare authorities, according to reports in Hebrew media.

In an interview with the Ynet news site, Fruchtman, a pediatrician at Soroka, said the couple were waiting for their son to be treated when they started threatening and assaulting medical staff over what they felt was a long wait time.

“I heard screams, threats and banging on the windows of the office,” Fruchtman recalled. “The woman said she was disabled and shouldn’t need to wait in line, she demanded immediate attention. I was standing there with a few other doctors to make sure the situation didn’t escalate. At one point I intervened and then they directed all of their violence at me — they spat on me, cursed me, and hit me,” he said.

“The hospital’s security and police officers arrived rather quickly and prevented the situation from taking a turn for the worse,” Fruchtman added.

Soroka Medical Center said in a statement that the hospital’s staff will convene at 8 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss the incident, with some non-urgent surgeries delayed. The hospital will return to full activity at 10 a.m.

The Israel Medical Association’s chairman, Prof. Zion Hagay, vowed to battle the “epidemic of violence in the health system” by all means.

He said Wednesday’s action will just be a “warning strike,” adding that “if the government doesn’t act immediately to increase security and expedite legislation for increasing enforcement and punishment — the whole [health] system will strike.”

Prof. Zion Hagay, chairman of the Israeli Medical Association. (Twitter: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Earlier Tuesday, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of one of the suspects, the 28-year-old father, while the 24-year-old mother was released under restrictive conditions. Police have appealed the latter decision.

The mother’s lawyer has said she is five months pregnant, suffers from complex PTSD and other illnesses and is recognized by the state as being 100% disabled.

In September, a 19-year-old patient at Soroka’s emergency ward was arrested after physically and verbally assaulting a doctor.

Such cases are not uncommon. Last June, Israel’s Doctors Union announced a two-day strike to protest violence against medics and the state’s alleged failure to implement a plan to combat such incidents.

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