Death of Doctor & Daughter

Medical Author: Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.

Over the years as an emergency room doctor, David Applebaum treated the victims of dozens of suicide bomb attacks in and around Jerusalem and revolutionized emergency medical care in Israel. But on September 9, 2003, as Dr. Applebaum and his 20-year-old daughter Nava sat talking in a Jerusalem cafe on the evening before her wedding, they were killed in a suicide bomb attack.

David Applebaum was born in Detroit, raised in Cleveland, and graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He was ordained a rabbi at Chicago's Brisk Rabbinical College in 1974 and that year entered the Medical College of Ohio. After graduation, Dr. Applebaum went on to complete a residency in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland. After his residency, he emigrated to Israel where he began working with the Israeli ambulance rescue service.

Dr. Applebaum was credited with transforming Israeli emergency medicine, which became an official medical specialty only last year in that country. He accomplished a great deal by finding pragmatic and sometimes simple solutions to the difficulties facing emergency departments.

"Immediately upon taking up his post in the ...emergency department, Applebaum shook things up," Judy Siegel-Itzkovich wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June. "Noting that staffers sometimes congregated for a chat and a cup of coffee in a small room behind a closed door, he removed the door, sending it off for 'repair'. It never came back. Now everybody who is on duty in the newly energized department is always ready for action."

At an urgent care clinic he founded, Applebaum brought in a clown to entertain patients. He also introduced technology to the emergency department, including an online information system for patients that also flagged patients who had been waiting too long to be seen by doctors.

Adapted from an obituary for Dr. Applebaum by Ivan Oransky published Sept. 27, 2003 in the medical journal The Lancet.

Comment: Terrorism and other senseless forms of violence are contrary to the principles of medicine.

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