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MDs Go On Strike, Death Rate Drops
The June 10, 2000 issue of the
British Medical Journal
reports that on March 9, 2000, doctors in the Israel Medical Association began sanctions to reduce their contact with patients (in other words, a strike) in order to protest a new four-year wage contract for doctors. Since going on strike, the death rate in Israel has dropped considerably according to a survey of Israeli Burial Societies.
"The number of funerals we have performed has fallen drastically," said Hananya Shahor, director of Jerusalem's Kehilat Yerushalayim Burial Society. "This month, there were only 93 funerals compared with 153 in May 1999, 133 in the same months in 1998, and 139 in May 1997."
Meir Adler, who manages the Shamgar Funeral Parlour says, "there definitely is a connection between the doctors' sanctions and fewer deaths. We saw the same thing in 1983 (when the doctors applied sanctions for four and a half months)".
There is one town in israel where the death rate has remained constant, the town of Netanya. Netanya has only one hospital and the doctors there signed a no-strike clause with their contract. The doctors in Netanya have not participated in the country-wide sanctions.
A similar situation also occurred in the United States. According to Robert Mendelsohn, M.D., In his book
Confessions of a Medical Heretic
, in Los Angeles county, California in 1976 the doctors went on a work slowdown to protest soaring malpractice insurance premiums.
There was an 18% drop in the death rate.
When the strike ended, the death rate went back to where it had been before the strike.
In retrospect, that may not have been the best argument they could have made about high malpractice insurance rates.