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עמוד בית
Wed, 29.05.24

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March 2018
Ronit Koren MD, Yifat Wiener MD, Karen Or MD, Carlos A. Benbassat MD and Shlomit Koren MD

Background: Previous surveys demonstrated variations in the clinical practices relating to the treatment and screening of maternal thyroid dysfunction.

Objectives: To study the current practices in the management of subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and thyroid nodules during pregnancy of obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) and endocrinologists in Israel.

Methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent by email to all members of the Israeli Endocrine Society and the Israel Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Questionnaires included demographic data and clinical scenarios with questions regarding the screening and management of pregnant women with SCH, hypothyroxinemia, and a palpable thyroid nodule. The questionnaire for OB/GYNs was slightly modified.

Results: We received 90 responses from endocrinologists and 42 responses from OB/GYNs. Among endocrinologists, 39% would repeat a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test of 2.9 mU/L with normal free thyroxine and treat with thyroxine if the second result was above 2.5 mU/L. Among OB/GYNs, 73% would manage a woman with SCH at the beginning of her pregnancy by themselves and only 22% would start thyroxine after a first TSH result above 2.5 mU/L. Concerning screening, 57% endocrinologists and 71% OB/GYNs recommended screening for thyroid dysfunction in every woman at the beginning of her pregnancy. Among endocrinologists, 54% would order an ultrasound for a palpable thyroid nodule and perform a fine needle aspiration only for suspicious lesions.

Conclusions: The medical approach to thyroid disease in pregnant women remains a matter of controversy. Our results support the need for larger and prospective clinical studies.

 

February 2016
Yuval Nachalon MD, Ohad Hilly MD, Karl Segal MD, Eyal Raveh MD, Dania Hirsch MD, Eyal Robenshtok MD, Ilan Shimon MD, Jacob Shvero MD, Carlos Benbassat MD and Aron Popovtzer MD

Background: Radiation exposure is a well-known risk factor for well-differentiated thyroid cancer (WDTC). However, disease characteristics, optimal treatment, time from exposure to disease appearance, and the effect on outcome of age at initial exposure have yet to be determined. 

Objectives: To identify the characteristics of radiation-induced thyroid carcinoma.

Methods: We retrieved the charts of all patients previously exposed to radiation who were diagnosed with WDTC between the years 1985 and 2013 in a tertiary referral center. 

Results: Forty-four patients were reviewed. Median time from radiation exposure to diagnosis was 23 years. These patients had higher rates of aerodigestive symptoms and distant metastases on presentation than seen in non-radiated patients. Patients who were exposed to radiation before age 15 years tended to develop the disease at a younger age but had a longer latency period (34.7 ± 15.3 vs. 16.3 ± 10 years, P < 0.001) and none had significantly higher rates of vocal cord palsy, hoarseness on presentation, or aggressive variants on histology compared to patients exposed to radiation at an older age. Disease-specific survival (DSS) was the same for both groups and were similar to that seen in the general population (95% 20 year DSS).

Conclusions: Radiation-induced thyroid cancer has a more aggressive presentation and the age at exposure affects the presentation of disease. Nonetheless, appropriate treatment leads to a favorable prognosis.

 

June 2015
Jochanan Benbassat MD

This paper summarizes the difficulties that may emerge when the same care-provider attends to private and public patients within the same or different clinical settings. First, I argue that blurring the boundaries between public and private care may start a slippery slope leading to “black” under-the-table payments for preferential patient care. Second, I question whether public hospitals that allow their doctors to attend to private patients provide an appropriate learning environment for medical students and residents. Finally, I propose a way to both maintain the advantages of private care and avoid its negative consequences: complete separation between the public and the private health care systems.

 

August 2014
Reuben Baumal MD, Jochanan Benbassat MD and Julie A.D. Van
"Clinician-scientists" is an all-inclusive term for board-certified specialists who engage in patient care and laboratory-based (biomedical) research, patient-based (clinical) research, or population-based (epidemiological) research. In recent years, the number of medical graduates who choose to combine patient care and research has declined, generating concerns about the future of medical research. This paper reviews: a) the various current categories of clinician-scientists, b) the reasons proposed for the declining number of medical graduates who opt for a career as clinician-scientists, c) the various interventions aimed at reversing this trend, and d) the projections for the future role of clinician-scientists. Efforts to encourage students to combine patient care and research include providing financial and institutional support, and reducing the duration of the training of clinician-scientists. However, recent advances in clinical and biomedical knowledge have increased the difficulties in maintaining the dual role of care-providers and scientists. It was therefore suggested that rather than expecting clinician-scientists to compete with full-time clinicians in providing patient care, and with full-time investigators in performing research, clinician-scientists will increasingly assume the role of leading/coordinating interdisciplinary teams. Such teams would focus either on patient-based research or on the clinical, biomedical and epidemiological aspects of specific clinical disorders, such as hypertension and diabetes.
April 2010
A. Stepansky, R. Gold-Deutch, N. Poluksht, P. Hagag, C. Benbassat, A. Mor, D. Aharoni, I. Wassermann, Z. Halpern and A. Halevy

Background: Hypocalcaemia following thyroid and parathyroid surgery is a well-recognized potential complication.

Objectives: To determine the utility of intraoperative quick parathormone assay in predicting severe hypocalcemia development following parathyroidectomy for a single-gland adenoma causing primary hyperparathyroidism.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was performed. IO-QPTH[1] values were measured at time 0 (T0) before incision, and 10 (T10) and 30 minutes (T30) following excision of the hyperfunctioning gland. Percent decrease in IO-QPTH at 10 minutes (T10), maximum percent decrease of IO-QPTH value, and lowest actual IO-QPTH value obtained at surgery were used to determine any correlation with the development of postoperative hypocalcemia requiring treatment.

Results: Percent decrease in IO-QPTH at 10 minutes, maximum percent decrease in IO-QPTH and lowest IO-QPTH value did not correlate with the lowest postoperative calcium levels measured 18 hours after surgery (r = 0.017, P = 0.860 r = 0.018, P = 0.850 and r = 0.002, P = 0.985 respectively). For the purposes of our analysis, patients were subdivided into three groups. Group 1 comprised 68 patients with normal calcium levels (serum Ca 8.6¨C10.3 mg/dl) Group 2 had 28 patients with hypocalcemia (8.1¨C8.6 mg/dl) Group 3 included 12 patients with severe hypocalcemia (calcium level ¡Ü 8.0 mg/dl) requiring calcium supplementation due to symptoms of hypocalcemia. There was no difference between the three groups in the lowest IO-QPTH value (P = 0.378), percent decrease in IO-QPTH (P = 0.305) and maximum percent decrease in IO-QPTH (P = 0.142).

Conclusions: IO-QPTH evaluation was not useful in predicting the group of patients susceptible to develop severe postoperative hypocalcemia. 
 

[1] IO-QPTH = intraoperative quick parathormone

July 2008
R. Baumal and J. Benbassat

Research in the acquisition of patient interviewing skills by medical students has dealt mostly with the evaluation of the effectiveness of various teaching programs and techniques. The educational approaches (i.e., the tutor-learner relationship and learning atmosphere) have rarely been discussed. These approaches may be grouped into: a) "teacher-centered" (didactic), in which the students are passive recipients of instruction; b) "learner-centered," in which the tutor functions as a facilitator of small group learning, whose task is not to teach but rather to ensure that all students participate in the discussions and share knowledge with other students; and c) "integrated learner-and teacher-centered" or "experiential learning," which consists of an ongoing dialogue between the tutor and the students. In this paper, we review the strengths and weaknesses of these educational approaches and attempt to identify the current trends in their use in the teaching of interviewing skills. It would appear to us that, until the 1960s, medical students acquired interviewing skills without any expert guidance. On the other hand, since the 1970s, there has been a tendency to offer and upgrade undergraduate programs aimed at imparting communication skills to medical students. Initially, these programs were didactic; however, during the last decade, there has been an increasing shift to teaching interviewing skills by promoting experiential learning.

July 2007
C.A.Benbassat, S.Mechlis-Frish, H.Guttmann, B.Glaser, and Y.Krausz
April 2006
G. Ofer, B. Rosen, M. Greenstein, J. Benbassat, J. Halevy and S. Shapira

Background: Debate continues in Israel as to whether to allow patients in public hospitals to choose their physician in return for an additional, out-of-pocket payment. One argument against this arrangement is that the most senior physicians will devote most of their time to private patients and not be sufficiently available to public patients with complex cases.

Objectives: To analyze the patterns of surgical seniority in Jerusalem hospitals from a number of perspectives, including the extent to which: a) opting for private care increases the likelihood of being treated by a very senior surgeon; b) public patients undergoing complex operations are being treated by very senior surgeons, c) the most senior surgeons allocate a significant portion of their time to private patients.

Methods: Demographic and clinical data were retrieved from the operating room records of three of the public hospitals in Jerusalem for all 38,840 operations performed in 2001. Of them, roughly 6000 operations (16%) were performed privately. Operations were classified as "most complex," "moderately complex" and "least complex" by averaging the independent ratings of eight medical and surgical experts. The surgeon's seniority was graded as "tenured" (tenured board-certified specialists, including department heads), "senior" (non-tenured board-certified specialists), and "residents." For each operation, we considered the seniority of the lead surgeon and of the most senior surgeon on the surgical team.

Results: The lead surgeon was of tenured rank in 99% of the most complex private cases and 74% of the most complex public cases, in 93% of the moderately complex private and 35% of the moderately complex public cases, and in 92% of the least complex private and 32% of the least complex public cases. The surgical team included a tenured physician in 97%, 66%, and 53% of the most complex, moderately complex, and least complex public operations, respectively. In both private and public cases, a board-certified (tenured or senior) specialist was a member of the surgical team for almost all of the most complex and moderately complex operations. On average, over half of the operations in which the lead surgeon was a department head were performed on public patients. Among tenured surgeons, those who spent more hours than their colleagues leading private operations also tended, on average, to spend more hours leading public operations.

Conclusions: Private patients have an advantage over public patients in terms of the seniority of the lead surgeon. However, there is also substantial involvement of very senior surgeons in the treatment of public patients, particularly in those cases that are most complex. 

February 2004
C. Benbassat, G. Tsvetov, B. Schindel, M. Hod, Y. Blonder and B.A. Sela

Background: Iodine intake is necessary to maintain normal thyroid function and prevent iodine deficiency disorders. In 1990, a resolution calling for universal salt iodination to eliminate iodine deficiency worldwide was taken by the World Health Organization and endorsed by some 130 countries. As of today, very little is known about iodine intake and the prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders in Israel, and iodine enrichment of regular salt has not been authorized.

Objectives: To assess the current level of iodine intake in an unselected group of residents from the Israeli costal area.

Methods: Spot urine samples were collected from three groups: Group A comprising 51 pregnant women attending the Women s Health Clinic at our institution, with a mean age of 32 years and at gestational week 28; group B consisting of 35 healthy subjects, mean age 38; and group C consisting of 16 euthyroid subjects harboring nodular goiters. Tap drinking and mineral water were also analyzed for iodine content. Iodine concentration was measured using the catalytic reduction of ceric ammonium sulfate method.

Results: When considering all groups together the median urinary iodine concentration was 143 µg/L, with 27% of the study population having concentrations under 100 µg/L and 7.8% under 50 µg/L. Values were distributed similarly between sites of residency, and no significant differences were seen between groups. The mean iodine concentration for tap drinking water was 22.8 µg/L (range 0.5–53.5 µg/L) and for mineral water 7 µg/L (range 0–15 µg/L).

Conclusions: Overall, iodine intake appeared to be satisfactory in our study population, however mild deficiency may exist in up to 26% of this group. A nationwide survey is needed to better determine the status of iodine intake in Israel, allowing for recommendations on salt-iodine enrichment in the future.

August 2002
Rachel Goldwag, MSW, Ayelet Berg, PhD, Dan Yuval, PhD and Jochanan Benbassat, MD

Background: Patient feedback is increasingly being used to assess the quality of healthcare.

Objective: To identify modifiable independent determinants of patient dissatisfaction with hospital emergency care.

Methods: The study group comprised a random sample of 3,152 of the 65,966 adult Israeli citizens discharged during November 1999 from emergency departments in 17 of the 32 acute care hospitals in Israel. A total of 2,543 (81%) responded to a telephone survey tht used a structured questionnaire. The ndependent variables included: hospital characteristics, patient demographic variables, patient perception of care, self-rated health status, problem severity, and outcome of care. The dependent variable was dissatisfaction with overall ED[1] experience on a 1–5 Likert-type scale dichotomized into not satisfied (4 and 5) and satisfied (1,2 and 3).

Results: Eleven percent of the population reported being dissatisfied with their emergency room visit. Univariate analyses revealed that dissatisfaction was significantly related to ethnic group, patient education, hospital identity and geographic location, perceived comfort of ED facilities, registration expediency, waiting times, perceived competence and attitudes of caregivers, explanations provided, self-rated health status, and resolution of the problem that led to referral to the ED. Multivariate analyses using logistic regressions indicated that the four most powerful predictors of dissatisfaction were patient perception of doctor competence and attitudes, outcomes of care, ethnicity, and self-rated health status.

Conclusions: Attempts to reduce dissatisfaction with emergency care should focus on caregiver conduct and attitudes. It may also be useful to improve caregiver communication skills, specifically with ethnic minorities and with patients who rate their health status as poor.


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[1]
ED = emergency department

May 2001
Ayelet Berg, PhD, Dan Yuval, PhD, Michal Ivancovsky, MBA, Sima Zalcberg, MSc, Avigail Dubani and Jochanan Benbassat, MD

Background: Patients who feel involved in their treatment have better outcomes than those who do not.

Objective: To identify determinants of perceived patient involvement in obstetric care.

Methods: A retrospective study was undertaken in 1,452 (83%) of 1,750 women sampled in November 1995 from maternity wards of 14 general hospitals in Israel. A postal and telephone survey using a self-administered questionnaire included the following variables: hospital (identity number), patients' age, self-reported complications, previous deliveries, education, ethnicity, and number of obstetric interventions performed and/or considered. The main outcome measured was the reported involvement in decisions for obstetric interventions.

Results: Reported full involvement varied from 72% for epidural analgesia to 13% for forceps/vacuum extraction. Factor analysis identified two dimensions of perceived involvement: one for routine” interventions (enema, monitor­ing, IV line and episiotomy), which are performed in Israel mostly by midwives, and another for "special" interventions (forceps/vacuum extraction, epidural or other analgesia, and cesarian section) performed by physicians. Logistic regression identified hospitals, younger age, number of interventions, and Arab ethnicity as correlates of a perceived non-involvement in decisions for "special" interventions.

Conclusions: Clinical setting, age and ethnicity affected patient perception of involvement in decisions for obstetric interventions.

January 2001
Ervin Stern MD, Carlos A. Benbassat MD, Avishai Nahshoni MD and Ilana Blum MD

Background: Diabetes mellitus is a serious, costly and growing public health problem. Very few studies have been published on the economic impact of diabetes in Israel.

Objective: To estimate health fund expenditures and rates of hospitalization for general conditions among the diabetic population in Israel.

Methods: The total number of hospitalization. All hospitals in Israel were included.

Results: There were 618,317 general admissions for a total of 3,005,288 hospitalization days. Analysis by age revealed that diabetic patients over age 45 represented 18.3% of all admissions and 17.5% of all hospitalization days. The average stay in hospital expenditure of the GSF for general medical conditions among diabetic patients in 1998 was estimated at US $173,455,790, of which 57% accounted for the daily hospitalization cost. Of the total hospital expenditures for that year, 13.3% was allocated to patients with diabetes of whom 96.4% were over 45 years old.

No significant difference was found between males and females.

Conclusion: Hospital expenditures for diabetic people increase with patient age and represent one-fifth of the total health insurance expenditure for the middle-aged and elderly population.

November 2000
Jochanan Benbassat, MD, Ziona Haklai, MSc, Shimon Glick, MD and Nurit Friedman, MSc
 Background: In 1995 hospital costs constituted about 42% of the health expenditures in Israel. Although this proportion remained stable over the last decade, hospital discharge rates per 1,000 population increased, while hospitalization days per 1,000 population and average length of stay declined.

Objective: To gain an insight into the forces behind these changes, we compared the trends in hospital utilization in Israel with those in 21 developed countries with available data.

Materials and Methods: Our data were derived from The "Hospitals and Day Care Units, 1995" report by the Health Information and Computer Services of the Israel Ministry of Health, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Health Data, 98. We examined the numbers of acute care hospital beds, of patients on dialysis and of doctors' consultations, health expenditures and age structure of the population in 1995 or closest year with available data, as well as changes in DRs, HDs and ALOS between 1976 and 1995.

Results: In Israel the DRs increased from 130 in 1976 to 177 in 1995 (36%), HDs declined from 992 to 818 (18%), and ALOS declined from 7.60 to 4.51 days (41%). Relative to other countries, in 1995 Israel had the lowest ALOS; low HDs similar to those in the UK, Portugal, Spain, the USA and Sweden; and intermediate DRs similar to those in Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Australia. The number of acute care beds per 1,000 population was directly related to HDs (r=0.954, P=0.000) and to DRs (r=0.419, P=0.052). Health expenditures (% of the gross national product) correlated with the number of patients on dialysis per 1,000,000 population (r=0.743, P=0.000). Between 1976 and 1995, HDs and ALOS declined in most countries, however the trends in DRs varied from an increase by 119% in the UK to a decline by 29% in Canada.

Conclusions and hypotheses: The increase in DRs in Israel from 1976 to 1995 was shared by many but not all countries. This variability may be related to differences in trends in local practice norms and in available hospital beds. If the number of patients on dialysis is a valid index for use of expensive treatment modalities, the correlation of health expenditures with the number of patients on dialysis suggests that the use of expensive technology is a more important determinant of health care costs than the age of the population or hospital utilization. Since the use of expensive technology is highest during the first few days in hospital, decisions about health care policy should consider the possibility that the savings incurred by a further decline in HDs and ALOS may be offset by a possible increase in per diem hospital costs and in health care expenditures after discharge from hospital.

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