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עמוד בית
Wed, 17.07.24

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August 2016
Tal Bergman-Levy MD MHA, Oren Asman LLB LLM LLD, Eyal Dahan MD, Binyamin Greenberg MD, Shmuel Hirshmann MD and Rael Strous MD MHA

Background: In Israel a general code of ethics exists for physicians, drafted by the Israel Medical Association. The question arises whether psychiatrists require a separate set of ethical guidelines.

Objectives: To examine the positions of Israeli psychiatrists with regard to ethics in general and professional ethics in particular, and to explore opinions regarding a code of ethics or ethical guidelines for psychiatry. 

Methods: A specially designed questionnaire was compiled and completed by psychiatrists recruited for the study. 

Results: Most participants reported low levels of perceived knowledge regarding ethics, professional ethics, and the general code of ethics. Older and more experienced professionals reported a higher level of knowledge. Most psychiatrists agreed or strongly agreed with the need for a distinct code of ethics/ethical guidelines for psychiatrists. This support was significantly higher among both psychiatrists under 50 years and residents. 

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the existing code of ethics and position papers may not be sufficient, indicating a potential need to develop and implement a process to create the ethical code itself. In addition, the findings highlight the importance of ethics education, suggesting that the need for a code of ethics is more urgent in the early stages of professional training, as younger professionals may be more exposed to advanced media technology. While some may fear that a distinct code of ethics will distance psychiatry from modern medicine, others assert that the profession combines aspects from the humanities and social sciences that require a unique sort of management and thus this profession requires a distinct code of ethics.


Daniel Hardoff MD, Assaf Gefen MA, Doron Sagi MA and Amitai Ziv MD

Background: Human dignity has a pivotal role within the health care system. There is little experience using simulation-based medical education (SBME) programs that focus on human dignity issues in doctor-patient relationships.

Objectives: To describe and assess a SBME program aimed at improving physicians’ competence in a dignifying approach when encountering adolescents and their parents.

Methods: A total of 97 physicians participated in 8 one-day SMBE workshops that included 7 scenarios of typical adolescent health care dilemmas. These issues could be resolved if the physician used an appropriate dignifying approach toward the patient and the parents. Debriefing discussions were based on video recordings of the scenarios. The effect of the workshops on participants’ approach to adolescent health care was assessed by a feedback questionnaire and on 5-point Likert score questionnaires administered before the workshop and 3 months after. 

Results: All participants completed both the pre-workshop and the feedback questionnaires and 41 (42%) completed the post-workshop questionnaire 3 months later. Practice and competence topics received significantly higher scores in post-workshop questionnaires (P < 0.001). A score of high to very high was given by 90% of physicians to the contribution of the workshop to participants understanding the dignifying approach, and by 70% to its influence on their communicative skills.

Conclusions: A one-day simulation-based workshop may improve physicians’ communication skills and sense of competence in addressing adolescents’ health care issues which require a dignifying approach toward both the adolescent patients and their parents. This dignity-focused methodology may be expanded to improve communication skills of physicians from various disciplines. 


June 2016
Simone Baldovino MD, Antoni Montserrat Moliner MD, Domenica Taruscio MD, Erica Daina MD and Dario Roccatello MD

The European Union defines rare diseases (RDs) as life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions whose prevalence is less than 5 per 10,000. Moreover, for many RDs, including those of genetic origin, combined efforts are required to reduce morbidity or perinatal or early mortality, and address the considerable decline in an individual's quality of life and socioeconomic potential. Their specificities, i.e., a limited number of patients and scarcity of relevant knowledge and expertise, make RDs a unique condition which requires wide cooperation at a supranational level. Many steps were therefore taken to develop a network of European Reference Centers and to improve RDs coding and classification. In Italy, the RDs issue was addressed in 2001 with the development of a national network and a national registry coordinated by the National Center for RDs of the Italian National Institute of Health. Registries are an important resource for the development of appropriate public health policies and research on specific RDs. Research on RDs is essential for the development of novel therapeutic approaches and requires the involvement of scientific societies and patient organizations. Nevertheless, the management of patients with chronic RDs requires a qualified care network. The network for RDs of Piedmont and Aosta Valley (North-West Italy) represents an example of health care organization based on the availability of advanced therapies close to the patient’s home.

January 2016
Zaher Atamna MD, Bibiana Chazan MD, Orna Nitzan MD, Raul Colodner PhD, Hila Kfir MD, Merav Strauss PhD, Naama Schwartz PhD and Arie Markel MD

Background: Recent studies show that vaccination of health care workers (HCW) might reduce influenza transmission and mortality among hospitalized patients. No studies have compared the incidence of laboratory-proven influenza in vaccinated versus unvaccinated hospital HCW. 

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of influenza vaccination among hospital HCW and to examine the attitudes of this population towards influenza vaccination.

Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study between 1 January and 30 April 2014 of 1641 HCW at our medical center; 733 were vaccinated and 908 not vaccinated. A random sample of 199 subjects was obtained: 97 vaccinated and 102 non-vaccinated. Participating individuals were contacted on a weekly basis during the flu season and were asked to report any respiratory or flu symptoms and, if positive, to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for influenza. 

Results: In the general HCW population, vaccination was more frequent among physicians 298/498 (58%) than among nurses (324/862 (38%) and among males than females. Flu symptoms were reported by 20 of 199 participants, 13 in the non-vaccinated group (12.7%) and 7 in the vaccinated group (7.2%). A positive PCR test for influenza A virus was present in 4 of 20 people tested (20%). All positive cases were from the non-vaccinated group (P = 0.0953). 

Conclusions: Non-vaccinated HCW showed a higher, although not statistically significant, tendency for contracting laboratory-proven influenza than the vaccinated population. The main reasons for vaccination and non-vaccination were personal beliefs and habits. Education efforts are needed to improve compliance. Larger studies could further clarify this issue.


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.


September 2012
D. Hershko, R. Abdah-Bortnyak, A. Nevelsky, E. Gez, ,G. Fried, and A. Kuten

Background: Local recurrences after breast-conserving surgery occur mostly at the site of the primary carcinoma. The main objective of postoperative radiotherapy is sterilization of residual cancer cells. Whole-breast radiotherapy is the standard of care, but its utility has recently been challenged in favor of radiotherapy limited to the area at highest risk of recurrence. Intraoperative electron radiotherapy (IOeRT) is an innovative technique for accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) that is applied to selected patients affected by early breast cancer.

Objectives:  To describe our experience with IOeRT at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa since we began utilizing this modality in 2006.

Methods: From April 2006 to September 2010, 31 patients affected by unifocal invasive duct breast carcinoma ≤ 2 cm diameter received wide local resection followed by intraoperative radiotherapy with electrons. Patients were evaluated for early and late complications, and other events, 1 month after surgery and every 3 months thereafter for the duration of the first 2 years.

Results: After a mean follow-up of 36 months, seven patients developed mild breast fibrosis and three suffered from mild postoperative infection. Rib fractures were observed in four patients before routine lead shielding was initiated. Additional whole-breast irradiation was given to four patients. None of the patients developed local recurrences or other ipsilateral cancers. Similarly, no contralateral cancers or distant metastases were observed.

Conclusions: Intraoperative electron radiotherapy may be an alternative to external beam radiation therapy in an appropriate selected group of early-stage breast cancer patients. However, long-term results of clinical trials are required to better evaluate the indications and utility of this technique in the management of breast cancer.

July 2012
I. Potasman, G. Naftali and M. Grupper
Background: Overuse and abuse of antibiotics is a major cause of microbial resistance. Within the hospital setting such overuse necessitates real-time supervision by infectious diseases (ID) specialists.

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a recently introduced computerized antibiotic authorization system on the pharmacy budget.

Methods: The study was performed in a 400 bed university hospital. With the new system, antibiotic requests are entered electronically by the ward physician and reviewed within minutes to hours by ID specialists. The feedbacks are seen in the wards and pharmacy. Successive years, one before and the other after introduction of the system, were compared.

Results: During the first year with the new system 7167 antibiotic requests were entered 20% of them were rejected, mainly for improper indication (43% of the rejections). During that year the antibiotic expenditure was reduced by 17%, compared to the previous year (~equal to 200,000 US$), and was against the trend of the last 5 years. Of the 35 antibiotics under the control of the ID team, the use of 7 was probably curtailed by the supervision. Pareto analysis revealed that four drugs constituted > 50% of the pharmacy’s expenses. The mortality rate (per 1000 hospitalization days) during those 2 years fell from 4.0 to 3.8.

Conclusions: Computerized antibiotic control by ID specialists is a feasible cost-saving new modality that may help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.
June 2011
Z.H. Abramson, O. Avni, O. Levi and I.N. Miskin

Background: Influenza vaccination of community-dwelling elderly is widely recommended. Observational studies have shown a strong association between physicians' personal vaccination status and their reported level of recommendation to patients and possibly their patients' actual vaccination. No published trials have examined whether increasing vaccination rates of primary care staff raises vaccination among their patients. Proof of a positive effect would support the notion that vaccinating health care workers benefits their patients.

Objectives: To examine whether an intervention to increase staff vaccination also increases vaccination of their patients aged 65 and over.

Methods: A trial examining an intervention aiming to raise staff immunization rates was performed in primary care community clinics in the Jerusalem area. The study population comprised the staff of 13 randomly chosen intervention clinics during the season of 2007–2008, with another 14 clinics serving as controls. The intervention resulted in a staff vaccination rate of 52.8% compared to 26.5% in the control clinics (66.1% and 32.2% among physicians). No intervention was directed at the patients. Data on patient vaccination and other patient characteristics were extracted from the health funds’ computerized databases.

Results: The percentage of patients vaccinated during the intervention season was 57.8% in both intervention and control groups, reflecting an increase of 14.4% compared to the previous season in the intervention clinics and of 13.4% in the control clinics. Logistic regression demonstrated a statistically significant association between intervention and patient vaccination with an odds ratio of 1.10 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.18). However, analysis adjusting for clustering did not show a significant association.

Conclusions: Increasing influenza vaccination of the medical staff did not substantially increase patient vaccination. These results do not show any patient benefit from staff vaccination in primary care.

June 2010
J. Dubnov, W. Kassabri, B. Bisharat and S. Rishpon

Background: Health care workers bear the risk of both contracting influenza from patients and transmitting it to them. Although influenza vaccine is the most effective and safest public health measure against influenza and its complications, and despite recommendations that HCWs[1] should be vaccinated, influenza vaccination coverage among them remains low.

Objectives: To characterize influenza vaccination coverage and its determinants among employees in an Arab hospital in Israel.

Methods: An anonymous, self-administered questionnaire was distributed among employees involved in patient care in the winter of 2004–2005 at Nazareth Hospital in Israel. The questionnaire included items related to health demographic characteristics, health behaviors and attitudes, knowledge and attitude concerning influenza vaccination, and whether the respondent had received the influenza vaccine during the previous winter or any other winter.

Results: The overall rate of questionnaire return was 66%; 256 employees participated in the study. The immunization coverage rate was 16.4%, similar to that reported for other hospitals in Israel. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated a significant association only between influenza vaccination coverage and the presence of chronic illness and influenza vaccination in the past.

Conclusions: Influenza vaccination coverage among Nazareth Hospital health care workers was low. They did not view themselves as different to the general population with regard to vaccination. An intervention program was launched after the study period, aimed at increasing the knowledge on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, stressing the importance of vaccinating HCWs, and administering the vaccine at the workplace. The program raised the vaccination coverage to 50%.

[1] HCWs = health care workers

November 2009
I.D. Wexler, A. Abu-Libdeh, Y. Kastiel, A. Nimrodi, E. Kerem and A. Tenenbaum

Background: Down syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities. Children and adults with DS[1] have significant medical problems and require life-long medical follow-up.

Objectives: To determine the adequacy of medical surveillance of individuals with DS as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Methods: The study was conducted at a multidisciplinary center specializing in the care of DS during the period 2004–2006. At their first visit to the Center, caregivers of individuals with DS were questioned about the medical status of their child including previous evaluations. Medical records brought in by the parents were reviewed.

Results: The caregivers of 150 individuals with DS (age ranging from newborn to 48 years old, median age 5 years) were interviewed and medical records were reviewed. The prevalence of specific medical problems differed between our population and the reported prevalence from other surveys. For example, 39.3% of our population had documented auditory deficits while the reported prevalence is 75%. For gastrointestinal and thyroid disease, the prevalence was higher in the studied population than that reported in the literature. In terms of compliance with the AAP[2] recommendations, most children (94%) underwent echocardiography, but only 42.7% and 63.3% had been tested for auditory or visual acuity respectively. Only 36.3% over the age of 3 years had cervical spine films.
Discussion: Many individuals with DS are not receiving appropriate medical follow-up and the implications of inadequate surveillance can be serious

[1] DS = Down syndrome

[2] AAP = American Academy of Pediatrics

December 2008
Click here for article written by Orly Tamir, MHA, MSc, Joshua Shemer, MD, Mordechai Shani, MD, Sharona Vaknin, MSc and Miriam Ines Siebzehner, PhD, MPA, RN. IMAJ 2008: 12: December: 901-905
The Israeli Center for Technology Assessment in Health Care (ICTAHC) was established in 1998 at the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, on foundations set in 1992 by the Medical Technology Assessment Unit. The Center is defined as an independent multidisciplinary research center, whose main aims are to assist in developing processes for the adoption of new technologies, identify and propose health priorities, and serve as an educational center for all stakeholders. Moreover, the Center promotes working relations with overseas counterparts as an essential component for expansion and advancement of the field of health technology assessment. Throughout the years, ICTAHC had contributed significantly to the development of the discipline of health technology assessment in Israel and to actual decision making in the health care system. The Center had outlined the principles, guidelines and overall framework for technology assessment in the country, as well as substantiating the discipline through various research areas, which materialized into a variety of technology-related policy accomplishments. Today, the Center serves as a national focal point in the health care system in Israel, as well as maintaining an active position in the international milieu. It has been a decade since the establishment of ICTAHC. This paper reviews the evolution of the center, describes changes in the HTA[1] field in Israel, identifies areas of focus and main research accomplishments, and illustrates the breadth of potential research scope and projections for the future.

[1] HTA = health technology assessment

October 2003
Y. Shapiro, J. Shemer, A. Heymann, V. Shalev, N. Maharshak, G. Chodik, M.S. Green and E. Kokia

Background: Upper respiratory tract illnesses have been associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

Objective: To assess the influence of vaccination against influenza on the risk of hospitalization in internal medicine and geriatric wards, and the risk of death from all causes during the 2000–2001 influenza season.

Methods: A historical cohort study was conducted using computerized general practitioner records on patients aged 65 years and above, members of “Maccabi Health Care Services” – the second largest health maintenance organization in Israel with 1.6 million members. The patients were divided into high and low risk groups corresponding to coexisting conditions, and were studied. Administrative and clinical data were used to evaluate outcomes.

Results: Of the 84,613 subjects in the cohort 42.8% were immunized. At baseline, vaccinated subjects were sicker and had higher rates of coexisting conditions than unvaccinated subjects. Vaccination against influenza was associated with a 30% reduction in hospitalization rates and 70% in mortality rates in the high risk group. The NNT (number needed to treat) measured to prevent one hospitalization was 53.2 (28.2 in the high risk group and 100.4 in the low risk group). When referring to length of hospitalization, one vaccine was needed to prevent 1 day of hospitalization among the high risk group. Analyses according to age and the presence or absence of major medical conditions at baseline revealed similar findings across all subgroups.

Conclusions: In the elderly, vaccination against influenza is associated with a reduction in both the total risk of hospitalization and in the risk of death from all causes during the influenza season. These findings compel the rationale to increase compliance with recommendations for annual influenza vaccination among the elderly.

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