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Israel: Amendment Establishes the Right to Be Accompanied During Receipt of Medical Care

(Dec. 30, 2014) On December 9, 2014, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Patient’s Rights (Amendment No. 8) Law, 5775-2014, amending the Patient’s Rights Law. (Amendment Law, Knesset website [scroll down to appropriate link on the right]; Patient’s Rights Law, 5756-1996, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, Israel’s Official Gazette] 5756 No. 1591 p. 327, as amended (both in Hebrew); up-to-date texts of this and other laws referred to in this article are available at NEVO LEGAL DATABASE (by subscription) (in Hebrew).)

The Amendment Law establishes the right of all patients to be accompanied by a person selected by them, as they receive medical care. The accompanying person does not have the right to intervene in the provision of care. (Amendment Law § 1, adding § 6A(a) to the Law.) According to explanatory notes accompanying the bill of the Amendment Law, “the objective of this provision is to assist patients who are receiving medical care, especially those having difficulty in understanding the [Hebrew] language, elderly patients, and those with disabilities.” (Patient’s Rights (Amendment No. 8) Knesset Bill 5775-2014, Knesset website (in Hebrew).)

The Amendment Law authorizes care providers to prevent accompanying persons from being present during provision of medical care if they believe that their presence will result in harming the patient’s, the accompanying person’s own, or other patients’ health; will interfere with the work of the medical team; or will negatively impact the privacy of other patients. (Amendment Law § 1 adding § 6A(b) to the Law.) The Law defines a care provider as a healthcare professional, including a physician, a dentist, an intern, a nurse, a midwife, or an occupational or physical therapist. (Patient’s Rights Law § 2.)

According to the Amendment Law, a decision to exclude a patient’s accompanying person must be explained to the patient. The accompanying person should be allowed to be present as soon as possible after the completion of the medical procedure. (Amendment Law § 1 adding § 6(C).)

The Amendment Law clarifies that its provisions do not apply to the Israel Police or to the Prisons Authority. Although the Amendment Law is also not applicable to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Amendment Law recognizes the IDF’s authority to issue similar provisions on patients’ rights based on its powers under the Military Justice Law. (Military Justice Law, 5715-1955, 9 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 184 (5715-1954/55, as amended).)