Court Sets Higher Standard for Doctors

YERUSHALAYIM -

A court ruling in Be’er Sheva this week could raise the standard of medical treatment in Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Magistrate’s Court held the Soroka University Medical Center liable for 10,000 shekels in damages for a patient’s misdiagnosed back shoulder fracture, rejecting the opinions of two orthopedists that such diagnoses were frequently missed by Emergency Room doctors who are still acquiring their expertise.

The court ruling explicitly stated that judiciaries were setting a “higher standard” for doctors than what currently exists in most emergency rooms in the country.

The plaintiff claimed that on June 23, 2000, he was examined, x-rayed and told by the emergency room doctor that there was no fracture. Nearly an entire month later and after significant suffering and aggravation of his shoulder injury, on July 22, 2000, the man underwent surgery, including general anesthesia, for the fracture that the doctor had said hadn’t happened.

The expert testimony, that most emergency room doctors could easily have missed the fracture, especially since that type of fracture is difficult to catch on an x-ray, usually being in the front of the shoulder, not the back, as in this case, did not satisfy the judge.

The court said that if emergency staff are inexpert and it’s known that mistakes are made, more-senior doctors must review the work of their junior colleagues within a reasonable amount of time.

However, the court did not award the higher damages sought, noting that a month is not such a long time, and that other factors besides the hospital’s negligence contributed to the plaintiffs’ suffering.