‘I thought I was going to die’: Doctor recalls attack by patient bearing crowbar

Dr. Idit Weisbach says she required 7 stitches to her scalp and a CT scan after being beaten last week: ‘I just started to scream. It hurt so much and I was bleeding a lot’

Dr. Idit Weisbach in an interview with Channel 12 news on June 19, 2022. (Screenshot)
Dr. Idit Weisbach in an interview with Channel 12 news on June 19, 2022. (Screenshot)

Dr. Idit Weisbach, the doctor who was beaten by a patient at a clinic last week in central Israel, said her life flashed before her eyes when a man came at her with a crowbar.

“I thought I was going to die,” Weisbach told Channel 12 news on Sunday of the incident last Tuesday at a Clalit health center in Beer Yaakov. The suspect “pulled out some sort of metal object and started to strike me on the head.”

“It wasn’t once or twice,” she recalled. “[He hit me] many times. I just started to scream. It hurt so much and I was bleeding a lot.”

Weisbach, who revealed her identity for the first time in the interview, said she needs patients and their families to understand that doctors are also human beings.

“I want you to see that I am also flesh and blood, doctors are people too,” she said. “There is no justification for any violence, not verbal and certainly not physical.”

The doctor said she does not recall exactly how she managed to flee her attacker.

A photo released by the Health Ministry shows Dr. Idit Weisbach following an attack by a patient at a clinic in Beer Yaakov on June 14, 2022 (Health Ministry)

“I was covered in blood, the whole hallway was covered in blood,” she recounted. The other employees of the clinic “heard my screams. The doctor came out of her room and brought me somewhere else, closed the door, and attempted to stop the bleeding.”

Close to a week after the attack, Weisbach said she still has seven stitches in her scalp, and suffered one gash that came close to her skull. She underwent a CT scan and said that “Thank God, everything is fine, and I’m improving slowly.”

Despite the incident, Weisbach said she intends to return as soon as possible to treating patients.

“For me, medicine is a way of life,” she said. “I will go back, I’ll go back to Beer Yaakov, to my clinic, to my patients whom I love — this won’t break me.”

Earlier Sunday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of Yaakov Haba, the man suspected of assaulting Weisbach with a crowbar.

And the Ministerial Committee for Legislation gave its initial okay to a proposal aimed at stiffening punishment for assaults on medical staff.

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

The motion, proposed by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, would increase the maximum punishment for attacks against on-duty medical staff from the current three years in jail to five.

The proposal would also broaden the definition of medical staff to include first-aid personnel and paramedics. It would also apply to attacks occurring during any form of medical treatment.

The attack on Weisbach was just one of several incidents of violence against healthcare professionals in recent weeks.

Last week, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash sharply criticized the ongoing violence against medical providers.

“It’s a general atmosphere that permits the blood[shed] of healthcare providers and for no reason,” Ash told the Ynet news site. “A doctor was busy and couldn’t see a patient so he broke into a room with an iron bar and hit her repeatedly on the head and other parts of her body… It’s just shocking, and this violent discourse and behavior must be stopped.”

Ash noted that, while there were newly announced plans to station police at hospitals, community clinics were more of an issue.

“It really is a much bigger challenge,” he said. “I want to say that having police in hospitals will not solve everything either. It is impossible to put a police officer in every clinic — that is clear. I believe that punishment is the key, to create deterrence.”

Last month, family members of a patient who died at a Jerusalem hospital attacked medical staff and caused significant damage to an intensive care unit after they were informed of his death.

Doctors and healthcare workers have staged strikes and rallies in recent weeks to protest the wave of violence against medical staff.

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