Friday, November 8, 2013

SHABBAT, medical emergencies during Shabbat

As we have previously explained, in a case where we asses that there is danger to a person's life (hole sheyesh bo sakana), the rules of Shabbat are suspended.

The rabbis gave some examples of this type of emergencies which require immediate medical treatment and therefore, supersede the observance of Shabbat.

1. An internal wound (maka she halal), which includes very intense internal pain or internal bleeding. The shulhan 'arukh (328:3) also includes within this category a wound in the mouth or teeth. If we suspect that an internal organ is affected we should proceed and do whatever necessary to help the patient: call a doctor or an ambulance, bring the patient to the Hospital, etc.   Now, if we know for sure what the origin of the pain or the bleeding is, and we asses that if we wait until Shabbat is over, there will be no danger to the patient's life, then we should wait until Motsae Shabbat (Yalqut Yosef 4:117).

2. The rabbis include within the category of medical emergencies a wound in the hand, leg, etc. caused by a metallic instrument which can provoke an infection. However, only a deep wound would be considered in our days a medical emergency. A small superficial wound should be treated temporarily with local antibiotic or cleaned with soap, etc. until medical assistance is sought once Shabbat ends. 

3. Very high fever,  a snake's or a scorpion's bite, etc. is also considered  a medical emergency.  

The general rule is that if the people who are taking care of the patient (or the patient himself) believe that he or she requires immediate medical assistance, they should do everything necessary to treat the patient: calling an ambulance, bringing a doctor or a nurse or taking the patient to the Hospital.  Now, if a health care professional can be easily reached without risking the patient's life (e.g., a nurse living in the same building) one should obviously seek that professional assessment and proceed accordingly ( penine halakha,  27:233).


Candle lighting in NYC:   4:25 pm
Shabbat Ends in NYC:      5:24 pm