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Admission to Hospitals

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Medical Emergency and the Patient Rights Law

What is the Patient Rights Law?
The law regulates the relationship between medical establishments and patients, and it
dictates the rights of any person-regardless of civil status or nationality-requesting
or receiving medical care, in order to protect his or her rights. The law provides any
person with the right to acquire medical care in accordance with standards and terms
practiced in Israel. In an emergency, any person is entitled to receive medical
treatment-without any prior condition, including any financial commitments of
any kind-and without consideration to his/her civil status (visa/passport/work
permit/none). The law also states that every patient is entitled to privacy and dignity.

I don't have an Israeli visa\permit, can the law help me?
The law guarantees the rights of every patient concerning the medical establishment,
regardless of status, and so it helps every patient in Israel. However, the law does not
mean the treatment is free of charge. A permanent resident of Israel who has Bituach
Leumi (National Insruance/Social Security) will receive a financial referral covering
the costs from his or her medical provider (Kupat Cholim), or if the patient is not a
resident but has private insurance, a referral may be obtained from the insurance
company. A person who is not a resident and does not have insurance will have to pay
for hospitalization. In a medical emergency, the law requires that any payment
will be settled after medical care has been provided.
Referrals to the emergency room at the hospital will money, except when an
exception exists. You will find information on these exceptions in a Ministry of
Health booklet discussing the rights of the insured under the Governmental Health
Insurance Law. The booklet is available in Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, and English, and
can be downloaded on the following website:
http://www.health.gov.il/pages/default.asp?maincat=1&catid=5&pageid=914
The booklet can also be obtained at your local health bureau. You have the right to
receive the booklet in your language!

My stomach hurts badly. Is this a medical emergency?
The law doesn't state what a medical emergency is. A medical emergency is legally
defined as a situation, in which a person's life is immediately endangered, or in which
there is an immediate risk of serious irreversible handicap, unless medical care is
provided. Out of experience, we can say that extreme conditions such as bone
fractures, loss of consciousness, or urgent need of dialysis, will be considered a
medical emergency. Provision of medication to cancer or AIDS patients, or regular
insulin injections for diabetic persons will not be considered a medical emergency.
Active labor (giving birth) is a medical emergency in Israel! Therefore, since the
patient is usually not a doctor, it is usually preferable to see a doctor who will in turn
decide if the patient should be taken to the hospital. When you are not sure and the
situation is worrying, it is better to go directly to the emergency room, rather
than wait until it is too late.

I have reached the hospital. They would not intake me without payment/financial
referral. What should I do?
You must insist to be admitted and examined by a doctor first. A medical emergency
cannot be declared by the hospital receptionists, by nurses, by us or by you; only a
doctor can determine whether the case is a medical emergency which is life-
threatening or potentially disabling if not immediately treated. Should the doctors
decide it is an emergency, the hospital must treat you without any prior conditions
(such as asking for payment or signatures on debt certificates). However, the hospital
may charge you later for the treatment. If the situation is not an emergency, the
hospital may demand payment before treatment begins. If, despite your insisting,
you are still denied an examination by a doctor, call us, at Physicians for Human
Rights and we will help you: 03-5133104, 03-5133110, 03-5133103.

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I have reached the hospital and was treated. Now the bill has arrived. What
should I do? Am I allowed to go to the hospital again?
In principle, the Patient Rights Law does not state that treatment is free, only that it is
unconditional. The hospital may demand payment from the patient or his nuclear
family. However, please keep the following in mind:

1. Hospitalization for childbirth is paid for by the Bituach Leumi for any insured
person or his partner. Therefore, even Palestinian second wives are entitled to
a childbirth grant and to hospitalization payment by the Bituach Leumi. For
more details see our brochure on the subject (available in the PHR office).
2. The existence of a debt cannot be a condition for recurrent hospitalization. If
there is a medical emergency, a person may return to the same hospital and be
treated without regard to his debt.
3. According to a Ministry of Health directive, Palestinian patients are charged
the public rate, and not the much higher tourist rate.
4. Life is more important than money. It is better to have hospital debts and a
live, healthy family.

For more information call us, and we will help you: 03-5133104, 03-5133110, 03-
5133103.

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