Israeli doctors and nurses lock horns

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israel's Medical Union on Wednesday threatened to launch a public protest over a Health Ministry decision to expand the authority of nurses.

The directive authorizes nurses with special training to, among other things: administer antibiotics, set patients up on breathing apparatuses, and even alter or stop doctor-prescribed treatment found to be ineffective.

Speaking to Army Radio, the head of the Medical Union, Dr. Yoram Balsar, called the decision hasty and superfluous, and warned that it poses a "threat to the patients."

"There is no shortage of man-power," said Balsar, who worried that Israel's professional level of health care would be eroded by putting patients in the hands of those with less training.

"It's not possible that the [new training course for nurses who want more authority] will give nurses the same tools that a doctor acquires after 12 or 13 years of training," he said.

Dr. Shoshi Riba, director of the nursing department at the Health Ministry, disagrees.

"There is no reason that a nurse that studied four years at university and received another year of training cannot perform a designated set of tasks just as well as a first-year doctor," insisted Riba.

The doctors are threatening to take the issue before Israel's Supreme Court.

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