The Health Ministry has suspended "until further notice" the functioning of the surgical theaters of Jerusalem's Misgav Ladach Hospital after the institution suspended its "only anesthesiologist," Dr. David Frankel. Frankel runs the Jerusalem Surgical Center, which performs some 6,000 surgical procedures a year at Misgav Ladach. Hospital director Dr. Yehuda Adler said he had "serious evidence that clearly points to severe negligence - even endangerment of life - by Dr. Frankel." Adler alleges that Frankel "abandons patients under full anesthesia without [leaving] an anesthesiologist in the operating theater and leaves the room for periods of up to 30 minutes." He added that when he performs general anesthesia, "he leaves the anesthetized patient and performs an additional anesthesia procedure - either local or spinal - in another operating room." Adler said the hospital has taken "all necessary action to ensure that the patients would not be hurt." The Jerusalem Post has learned from sources familiar with the story that there has been an ongoing financial and legal dispute over the last few years between the hospital's owner - the Kupat Holim Meuhedet health fund - and the Jerusalem Surgical Center. The 130-year-old hospital - originally founded in the Old City, moved to the Katamon quarter and then to its current premises in Rehov Hizkiyahu Hamelech - was six years ago a maternity and gynecology hospital owned by a non-profit Sephardi organization that went bankrupt. Then it was purchased by Meuhedet mostly for day surgery, as well as imaging services. In a statement Monday the Health Ministry said it viewed "as serious the operation of surgical theaters in a way that is liable to endanger patients." A spokesman for the ministry said Misgav Ladach would be permitted to resume its operations "when the hospital finds a suitable anesthesiologist who fulfills the ministry's requirements." The ministry said the case has been referred to Prof. Shimon Glick, its commissioner for complaints against physicians. Frankel, who made aliya from Canada, opened the private Jerusalem Surgical Center in the Wolfson Building nearly 20 years ago. He moved all his operations to Misgav Ladach when the hospital was sold to Meuhedet. Frankel declined to comment on Monday night.

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