Doctor Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Taking Bribes From Patients

Court determined that Dr. Aryeh Figger, an oncologist, took thousands of shekels from patients in exchange for special treatment during their stay at Ichilov and Beilinson Hospitals.

A former deputy head of the oncology department at Tel Aviv Ichilov hospital was sentenced to a year in prison after found guilty of taking bribes from patients.

Dr. Aryeh Figger, a senior oncologist, was initially sentenced to six months of community service by the Tel Aviv Shalom Court, however, the Tel Aviv District Court revoked the ruling and replaced it with a harsher sentence.

Dr. Figger - Aryeh Kimche
Moti Kimche

The Shalom Court found Figger guilty in December of 2009 of accepting bribes from patients, exploitation and breach of trust, sentencing him to 14 months of probation, a 75 thousand NIS fine and 24 thousand NIS worth of compensation to patients, in addition to the six months of community service.

The court determined that Figger took thousands of shekels worth of payments from patients in exchange for special treatment during their stay at Ichilov and Beilinson Hospitals.

Figger allegedly offered some patients in exchange for compensational payment the opportunity to take part in test groups that would enable them to receive costly medicine for free. The oncologist also allegedly advised patient to pay to see him at his private clinic to save them long waits at the hospital.

The state appealed the leniency of the oncologist's sentence, while Figger appealed his conviction altogether.

In their ruling, the judges stated Wednesday that "there is a common denominator between an envelope of money, referring patients to a private clinic or via a secretary and demanding payment in exchange for being part of a treatment group to receive experimental drugs for free. The common denominator is the appealer's readiness to receive payment in any way possible."

Figger has denied the allegations against him, saying at the end of his sentencing Wednesday that he would be "thrilled if someone could bring even a single proof." He continued, adding that his "staff and patients are shocked; this is the end of a career. I am a man who has served his patients faithfully for 35 years."

Some of the disgraced doctors former patients came to show their support, contesting the allegations against him and attesting to the integrity of his treatment.

Figger was first arrested in 2006 under suspicions of taking bribery and breach of trust.

Figger was also suspected of taking bribes from drug companies to promote their products at the Health Ministry, and also among patients.

The police probe of the oncologist also led to the investigation of other doctors who have also taken bribes from patients in the same way that Figger allegedly did.