Health Ministry May Strip Fallen Oncologist of Medical License

The Health Ministry decided yesterday to bring Dr. Arie Figer to a disciplinary tribunal following his conviction at Tel Aviv's Magistrate's Court for taking bribes from patients and exploiting their distress.

So far the ministry has refrained from dealing with the complaints against the senior oncologist, as the police were investigating the case.

Senior ministry officials said the tribunal will recommend taking disciplinary measures against Figer following his conviction.

The tribunal could recommend several penal measures, including revoking his doctor's license temporarily or permanently.

Figer has had a license to practice medicine since November 1978, and has an oncology specialist's certificate. In recent years he became a senior oncologists at Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) in Tel Aviv, serving as deputy director of the oncology department and acting head of the gastroenterology service.

He was also a member of the Israel Cancer Association's policy updating committee for gastrointestinal tumors.

About three years ago patients started complaining that Figer demanded money for experimental treatments and would refer patients to his private clinic in Bnei Brak for continued treatments after the ones he gave them in Sourasky's oncology department.

Dr. Gabi Barabash, director of Sourasky, passed the complaints on to the Health Ministry, leading to the police investigation into the affair. During the investigation the number of complaints against Figer grew.

Senior executives at Sourasky were disappointed with Figer's conviction. They had hoped he would be acquitted.

"Dr. Figer is on indefinite leave at his own request since the beginning of the affair. The hospital's management regrets the verdict," the hospital said yesterday. (Dan Even)