Patient pepper-sprays doctor at Beersheba psychiatric hospital

Incident is the fourth in a recent wave of violence against medical professionals that led public hospitals and clinics to go on strike last week

Illustrative photo of doctors on their way to an emergency room, on October 31, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of doctors on their way to an emergency room, on October 31, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A patient pepper-sprayed a doctor at a psychiatric hospital in Beersheba on Sunday, the fourth instance of violence against medical professionals over the past two weeks.

An unnamed official at the hospital told the Kan public broadcaster that the assault was “rare” even when it came to patients “in a psychotic condition.”

Kan said that police had arrested the patient and the doctor was in good condition after being taken to the city’s Soroka Medical Center.

Staff at public hospitals and clinics went on strike on Thursday in response to the recent rise in attacks on medical staff.

The Israel Medical Association, announcing the strike, called for a police presence in every emergency room, and said hospitals and community clinics needed improved security systems.

The association also urged a change in legislation so that an attack on medical staff would be viewed with the same severity as an attack on a uniformed police officer.

Illustrative: Nurses from Hadassah Medical Center protest in Jerusalem on July 20, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Health Ministry Deputy Director Sefi Mendelovich said on Sunday that violence against healthcare professionals in Israel was rising in an alarming fashion.

Mendelovich told Army Radio that over the past 14 years, starting when he was a young doctor, he has experienced such violence “a lot of the time.”

Overall, he said, he has seen a “significant rise in violence toward healthcare staff — both physical and verbal. And it cannot continue this way.”

Damage to the intensive care unit at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem caused by family members of a patient who died there, May 16, 2022. (Hadassah spokesperson)

Also Sunday, police said that three suspects in a violent attack in Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus in Jerusalem last week had been remanded into custody pending charges.

During the incident, relatives of a patient who died of an overdose attacked hospital staff and caused significant damage to hospital property upon being notified of the patient’s death. Two members of staff were lightly injured and required medical attention.

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