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Tag: Medicine

Doctors on Strike

Magen David Adom Tel AvivTalks between the Israel Medical Association and the Treasury fell short of yielding results last Wednesday, causing fears the doctors’ strike that began last week could continue into the new week. Doctors began a warning strike last Tuesday, treating only emergency cases.

They are demanding higher wages and better working conditions, including an end to back-to-back shifts which leave hospital doctors on duty for more than 20 hours straight.

The ministry said it will publish “guidelines for hospitals and health funds, and set the limits of the strike to help the public.”
The Israel Medical Association responded, “It should be remembered that all instructions about the strike will be issued by the union’s strike committee.”

Globes reported:

“The gaps between the sides are still wide. The Ministry of Finance is prepared to grant doctors a 1% pay hike per year as part of a 5-8 year labor contract. It is also offering a special supplement of NIS 600-1,200 for specialists, doctors in the periphery, and doctors in professions where there is a shortage. The Israel Medical Association is demanding a 50% increase in doctors’ hourly wage, plus changes in employment terms which will amount to an estimated additional 50% pay hike.”

Medical Histadrut Permits Over-the-Counter Ritalin

RitalinThe Ethics Committee of the Medical Histadrut (Federation) will now be permitted to sell the psycho-stimulant drug that treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Ritalin (Methylphenidate) without a doctor’s prescription.

Professor Esther Shohami, a lecturer and researcher in the pharmacological department in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, is critical of the decision.

She told Yediot Achronot:

“A person who does not need Ritalin and only takes the medication to improve performance could cause certain things that were hidden inside him to erupt…There are people who arrive at the emergency rooms with psychotic seizures.”

The head of the IMA’s Ethics Board, Professor Avinoam Reches said:

“Everyone has the right to make the most of themselves so long as it doesn’t hurt or endanger others…Though a person may not suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, if Ritalin helps him concentrate then it is allowed. It is the same for memory-improvement drugs. If they help a person with slightly worsened cognitive skills then there is no reason not to give them to him…”

Reches stated, however, Israel will not assist in paying for the drug unless medical need has been proven. Students who need extra help during exams will have to pay the full price for Ritalin, and will not receive financing from their HMOs.

With Satan In The Driver’s Seat, Peace Is Nowhere To Be Found

Jerusalem, nay, the Middle East is a place where everyone thinks they have authority over the ‘other-guy’, yet the situation is proverbially out-of-control.

Led by Hezbollah member, Raed Salah, the Northern Branch-Israeli Islamic Movement has demanded all Mezuzot be taken off the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Salah said:

“This is a disgusting attempt to Judaize the Arab and Islamic heritage of the old city…and all Islamic institutions are called upon to act quickly to remove the Mezuzot.”

(Judaize the Jewish State? I don’t know you guys!)

Spokesman for the Al-Aqsa “institution” Mahmoud Abu Atta, says:

“The only religion who owns Jerusalem is Islam…The old city of Jerusalem to the Arabs forever.”

Jerusalem Little Kotel Meanwhile, in a different part of the Old City, the Jerusalem Development Authority opened its Muslim Quarter site – ‘Little Kotel‘ – to Jewish prayer. Scaffolding was removed from under an arch supporting Palestinian homes.

According to the Ateret Cohanim Website, students at Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim pray every Friday in the courtyard, where no disturbances a have been recorded in recent years.

This move does not come in response to Palestinian groups last month claiming the Western Wall is not a Jewish holy site, and instead, is sacred to Muslims.

And then, in an unrelated story, Gaza’s health sector seems to be on the verge of collapse due to a lack of medicine.

Medical care, said Medhat Abbas, general director of the Ash-Shifa medical complex in Gaza City, must be separated from political disputes.

Gaza’s Health Ministry has blamed its counterpart in Ramallah for a shortage of medicine in the Strip. Health Minister of Hamas, Bassem Naim, said Gaza was lacking 40% of basic medicines which he accused the PA of withholding.

Meanwhile, Israeli spokesman, Ofer Gendalman, warned Hamas to stop firing projectiles into southern Israel.

Dozens of projectiles have been launched from Gaza at Israel since the start of 2011. The launches have been the work of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the National Resistance Brigades, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad.

Assuta Tel Aviv Accused of Malpractice and Poor Ethics

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.”

The Valley of Dry Bones?

Recently Dr. Eitan Hai-Am resigned from his post as Health Ministry director-general because of the cabinet’s decision to relocate the emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center because there are ancient graves found on the site.

Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said at a committee meeting:

“You’ve been discussing graves for the past two hours. Patients will die as a result of this decision and you are talking about (graves)…Building an emergency room far from the hospital’s main building means killing patients. You do not realize that.”

Demonstration outside the KnessetAround 70 doctors held a demonstration outside the Knesset in protest against the government’s decision. The doctors warned that moving the ward to a new location, as demanded by the haredim, “may end up costing us lives”.

Revising plans to relocate the ER would cost an extra NIS 136 million (about $36 million) and would delay the project for two years and put the facility too far from the hospital’s main building. Netanyahu instructed his director-general, Eyal Gabai, to head a task force which would reassess the decision.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the new task force:

“will determine, together with all the relevant authorities, the possibility of erecting the secure emergency room at Barzilai Hospital in a way in which lives will not be endangered. The task force’s conclusions will be presented immediately after Pesach. Until then there will not be any work done on the facility.”

Outside Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical CenterCommittee members toured the site Wednesday morning with Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority and an aide to Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman.

Dorfman told the committee that he cannot guarantee that there are Jewish graves at the site designated for the new emergency room, “The fact that there was no Jewish community in Ashkelon does not mean that there were no Jews there at all. We cannot reach a decision until we dig in the entire site.”

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, who also attended the Knesset meeting, said:

“I personally witnessed how the distance between the different hospital wards resulted in the loss of life…Building the ER at a different location will take at least three years, during which more lives will be lost.”

MK Arieh Eldad, a physician by training, said “a situation has been created in which a few bones are worth 130 million shekels,” he added “Jews know how to transfer Jewish graves from place to place, not to mention bones of Philistines.”

Israeli Medicine at it Again – Heart Repaired after Heart Attack

heartIt has often been assumed that after a heart attack, where by definition a piece of the heart dies for lack of blood and oxygen, the damage is irreparably permanent. However, Israel has done it again, this time by proving that, indeed, it is not.

Over a month ago, OneJerusalem reported an Israeli breakthrough as a possible cure for radiation sickness, as well as a kickstarter pill for a damaged pancreas in diabetics. Now, they’ve done it again by making a dramatic breakthrough in treating heart disease, growing heart muscle in rats’ abdomens and using it to patch the hearts of rats that suffered heart attacks.

The results of the experiment were published this week in an American journal. Many researchers have attempted this approach to fixing damaged hearts in the past but haven’t succeeded in keeping the grafted tissue alive to join with the adjoining heart tissue. The difference in approach by the Israeli team is that instead of transplanting the cells directly to the heart, they implanted them in the abdomen first in order to get a system of blood vessels going. This means the tissue has less of a chance of dying of oxygen deprivation and can attach itself to the vessels of the heart.

The process took 28 days until the two linked up, and more than that, the patch actually improved the damaged heart. The problem with heart attacks is that they usually leave a scar on the heart, which tightens up over time and often leads to another heart attack. The patch prevented the scar from forming.

When do human trials start on abdomen-grown cardiac tissues? HA, we have no idea. But hopefully soon.

Insulin Shots for Diabetics a Thing of the Past?

How’s THIS for the only democracy in the Middle East: Thanks to a Tel Aviv University student named Adi Mor, Insulin Shots may become obsolete very soon.

insulinAdi has developed a tablet-based treatment for Type 1 diabetes, which tests show restores insulin production in animals. The drug is based on something called a Ras protein inhibitor. The Ras protein is found in 30% of all cancerous tumors, and completely disrupts a cell’s normal function. The inhibitor allows cells to continue with business as usual by taking the protein out of the equation. The drug was initially designed for patients with pancreatic cancer but Mor modified it to function for diabetics.

The great news about that is, since the previous version of the drug already passed most of the hurdles for FDA approval, this spin off could skip straight to clinical trials, cutting the wait for the drug to about 5 years.
The same drug is also effective against autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and lupus. The drug helps autoimmune diseases, which occur when the body’s immune system begin to attack the body itself, by increasing the production of a protein called Foxp3 that keeps the immune system cells in check. This is the same thing which keeps diabetes in check.

If it works, Israel chocks up another victory against common worldwide diseases. See our article on radiation sickness for further good news.

Flu Bug Touring Israel

The months of January and February are always periods to be on the lookout for one of winter’s worst “visitors”, the flu. Also known by it more formal name, the influenza virus, this highly contagious disease is much more serious than a common cold, and can lead to dangerous and sometimes fatal complications. Recent publicized warnings are advising people in Israel, especially older people and small children to take extra precautions, and many health authority officials are saying that stains of this year’s “flu bug” seems to be more aggressive and widespread than ever.

There are three prevalent kinds of “bug” or influenza, which go by names of Spanish flu, Asian and Hong Kong flu, and combinations of the three. Although vaccinations, such as Tami Flu are offered to people annually, it is usually impossible to guarantee that the given vaccination will be effective against the particular virus “visiting” a country or region each year. Other serious viral diseases that have been given considerable attention in recent years is the Avian of “bird flu” and a condition known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome of SARS. Although both SARS and bird flu have resulted in a number of deaths world wide, their combined total to date have been far less that the mortality rate of a single influenza season which usually results in thousands of deaths, even in countries like the U.S. and Europe, who claim to have to best health care systems.

This year, it has been reported that the largest flu outbreaks in Israel are in the major population centers; especially Jerusalem and the heavily populated central region, stretching from Ashdod to Netanya. Since many people work in large buildings, such as those in the high tech industry, and with many frequenting shopping malls and traveling on modes of public transport, such as buses and trains, the likelihood of getting “bitten” by the flu bug is much more possible since the virus is also an airborne one, as well as one that is transmitted by touching things that already contaminated people were touching, such as door knobs and even computer keyboards. Schools, hospitals and nursing homes are also especially vulnerable to outbreaks of flu, and small children in nurseries and day care center often pass the “bug” from one to another.

This year, many cases of flu seem to be accompanied by high fevers and various body aches and pains, in addition to the normal symptoms, such as headaches, nasal and lung congestion, as other respiratory problems. Anyone with high fever, feelings of stiffness in the neck, and especially feelings of nausea should see a doctor immediately as they could have something more serious such as meningitis. Flu can also develop into conditions such as pneumonia, especially in small children and people over age 50. Although an average case of flu usually runs its course in 5 to 7 days, come cases last considerably longer and develop in to these and other complications.

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