The director-general of the Sourasky Medical Center
in Tel Aviv said Tuesday that the institution has decided to launch suspension procedures against three doctors documented asking for tens of thousands of shekels for treating foreign patients.
Channel 2 TV's investigative program "Uvda," aired Monday evening, showed three senior doctors – Prof. Zvi Ram, Prof. Shlomi Constantini and Dr. Yossi Paz – asking for money from one of the program's researchers who posed as a medical tourism agent.
"There is no doubt that no one is allowed to demand or receive payment for a treatment given to a citizen or tourist as part of a public hospital," Sourasky Medical Center Director-General Prof. Gabi Barbash
wrote in a letter to the hospital workers.
"My heart aches, as these are the most senior doctors, doctors who live and breathe out hospital from dawn to night and who thousands owe them their lives for their work here."
Addressing the decision to suspend the doctors, Prof. Barbash wrote: "Clearly, my decision on the way to handle the current situation may have far-reaching consequences on the performance of the entire Department of Neurosurgery and on the ongoing treatment of hundreds of patients, adults and children."
"Nonetheless," Barbash added, "our medical center, like every hospital, must obey the law, the rules of operation dictated to us and the ethical principles binding everyone in the medicine profession. Hesitating here may lead to damages in other fields and areas and undermine the organizational ethics – a matter with consequences which are as serious. Therefore, it is my duty to launch suspension procedures against the three concerned doctors."
Barbash concluded by saying that the institution had dealt with "quite a few crises" in the past." He further noted that following those crises, "We have grown stronger and turned into an outstanding and leading super-center despite the crises, as we never covered up mistakes and mishaps. We investigated, studies and drew lessons.
"None of us is immune of making mistakes. We are studying the incident and we will draw conclusions from it too! I pray that we will find the way to operate under the law with minimum damage to our patients and continue to maintain the moral principles our hospital must work according to."
Health Minister Yael German
said: "The matter must be taken care of on both the personal level and the institutional level. On the personal level we must do everything we can to stop any practice of 'black medicine' in the healthcare system."
The minister added that the entire healthcare system must be supervised to ensure that "the issue of medical tourism is regulated, that rules and guidelines are set to protect the public's interests."