Press release from Mossawa Center
Physicians for Human Rights
Violation of Medical Immunity in Israel
November 23, 2000
The Police Force Hospitals Reveal Names of Arabs
According to reports we received from Arab citizens that were injured last month, it was confirmed by Physicians for Human Rights, the Association for civil Rights and newspaper publications, that the Israeli police forced Hospitals to release names of Arab citizens that were injured during the October demonstrations.
As a result, this was a direct violation of medical immunity, which is stated in the patient rights law and the ethics rule. We feel that the Hospitals should have filed for an appeal. The medical immunity law serves as a building block of trust between the medical staff and its patients. Furthermore, it serves to promote the public interest in treating every patient who is in need, equally. In this case, breaking the immunity would prevent access to medical treatment. For example, reports show that many injured civilians did not turn to hospitals for medical treatment, from constant fear that the police would receive their confidential information and records. This lack of trust will only increase if medical personnel continue the transformation of personal records to the authorities.
The medical ethics, which is in the patients interest, should overpower the court orders, which serve as an immunity law violation by requesting confidential patient records. Due the importance of the subject, the protests that occurred, that resulted in clashes when extreme force was inflicted, caused many of these injuries, which were not criminal or illegal. Furthermore, in a protest case, revealing vital information results to tremendous civilian impact on the rights of civilians to display their beliefs and frustration against the governmental system in Israel.
In addition, the information received by the police will be used for the purpose of investigating past events not preventing future dangers. The police utilize many different methods to locate individuals that have committed criminal acts. In this case, the police are utilizing the same methods even though these incidents are not criminal matters.
The information below reveal the Hospital staff answers to the questions of the Physicians for Human Rights and the Association for civil Rights:
Rambam Hospital Haifa
An interview with Dr. Tsvi Ben Yishai, the spokesman of the Hospital, on the 9th of November revealed that, without a court order, Rambam Hospital transferred an injured list with full medical reports to the police. Dr. Sasa, the police physician, requested these transfers.
The Hospital claims that the release of the medical reports was a mistake. The hospital, under criminal cases, practiced such procedures but in this case the police physician mislead the employees at Rambam. Dr. Ben Yishai stated, Im angry that the doctor mislead me.
The Hospital claims that they did not receive a court order regarding the transfer of medical records. They refuse to reveal if they transferred information to the police.
Haemeq Hospital Afula
They didnt answer to the questions on this issue.
We would like to point out that according to reports from civilians it appears that the same incident happened in Afula (Haemeq) and Naharriya as in Hafia. This means, that without a court order, the authorities received confidential information from hosptals.
The Italian and English Hospital Nazareth
A court order was released for the patient list that treated in Nazareth hospitals at the beginning of October to be transferred to the authorities.
In addition, according to the Police Health Department, a Hospital or Doctor is not required to transfer information about a patient if they feel that the information will offend or harm the patient in any way, shape or form. In an incident regarding a court order, by law, the hospital should appeal. If not, they will be held fully responsible of violating the immunity law. Accordingly, the Hospital or Doctor is forced to compensate the patient for damages caused.
Lastly, we would like to conclude by stating that according to the patients rights law, the medical institutions are required to explain the legal procedures of transferring personal information. In cases that require the transfer of information, the patients have a right to know what information is being transferred. In the cases listed above, these procedures were never followed.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Jafar Farah
Physicians for Human Rights
Ms. Hadas Ziv
Association for Civil Rights
Ms. Hadas Tagari