Assuta Medical CenterThe Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv opened last year wearing an impressive reputation. But lately, that reputation has been blemished.

In a letter last week to Assuta Director General Eitan Hai-Am, Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzu cited three cases in which women who had been operated on, at the hospital, died. In two such cases, the hospital neglected to notify the ministry and took no less than three months to hand over to the ministry a copy of one of the patients’ files.

Some of the files reflected a lack of surgeons at critical times after operations had been performed.

In one case, a surgeon failed to visit his patient for five days after her operation, despite her dangerous condition. Another time, a woman died after the surgeon decided to go into surgery on a different patient despite being told he was needed to stop the woman’s bleeding.

In a document, the head of the Health Ministry’s medical administration, Hezi Levy, wrote:

“From an analysis of irregular occurrences at Assuta, it is apparent that there are no clear standards as to what is required by the hospital in admitting a patient, in responsibility for following the patient’s whereabouts, the surgeon’s responsibility and the standards required of him and the consultation procedure with various consultants on complex cases.”

For its part, Assuta said:

“We regret that the Health Ministry’s director general is dealing with such an important subject as quality control in such a slanted manner, while acting [despite] a conflict of interest…. It would be good if the Health Ministry’s director general and the head of the ministry’s medical administration … would conduct quality control measures on the entire health care system in Israel, including the hospitals with which they are connected… Assuta would be pleased to cooperate with any such process and of course to contribute its own long years of experience to improve Israeli medicine.”

In a response to Gamzu’s letter, Assuta’s Director General, Hai-Am, alluded to a conflict of interest on Gamzu’s part in his dealings with the medical facility.

“I am convinced that your inquiry, does not, heaven forbid, stem from your prior position…Of course, there is nothing stopping you from clarifying the situation, investigating and holding meetings to satisfy yourself that there is no problem whatsoever in the medical system at Assuta, including anything related to medical supervision and oversight. At the same time, it seems to me that fairness requires that such an investigation would be carried out in an unbiased manner and based on genuine findings.”