Three Doctors May Face Prosecution for Allegedly Soliciting Bribes From Medical Tourists

Three senior doctors were secretly filmed by a TV investigative program asking for money to operate on medical tourists; police say there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Nir Kafri

There is sufficient evidence to prosecute three senior doctors from Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, the Israel Police announced on Tuesday.

The three were secretly filmed by the TV investigative program “Uvda” (Fact) in December 2013 asking for fees of thousands of dollars for operating on medical tourists. The payment was in addition to the official hospital fee that is supposed to cover their salaries.

The police investigation of Prof. Zvi Ram, head of the department of neurosurgery, Prof. Shlomi Constantini, head of the department of pediatric neurosurgery, and Dr. Yossi Paz, a senior cardiac surgeon, began in January 2014 and lasted for almost two years.

Police say they uncovered at least 40 different incidents between 2009 and 2013 in which the doctors demanded and received additional sums for operating on medical tourists. The money went into their own pockets, according to the police.

“Dozens of people involved were investigated, some under caution, papers were seized, materials received from the Tax Authority were dealt with, and a variety of comprehensive investigative activities were carried out,” the police said.

The file of the investigation will now be transferred to the Tel Aviv district criminal prosecutor for perusal and final decision.

Ichilov Hospital is in no rush to draw conclusions against the three, who have continued to work in the hospital without any loss of status, even under new CEO Prof. Roni Gamzu, the former director general of the Health Ministry.

“These are three outstanding doctors who are busy every day saving lives and who demonstrate exceptional dedication to our patients,” said the hospital. “The hospital administration will study the evidentiary and legal situation, consult with the relevant bodies and make its decisions.”

“Filing an indictment against the three doctors would be a real earthquake in Ichilov,” the hospital added. “The three are among the hospital’s senior doctors. Paz was even chosen as chairman of the physicians’ union, and Ram is presently starring in a PR film about the hospital.”

The three doctors chose not to respond.