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The Health Ministry has suspended for three years the medical license of a general practitioner in Shoham for a list of violations of medical ethics.
According to the ministry, Dr Yigal Schneider had and continues to have sex with a "mentally fragile" patient; injected a potentially toxic analgesic into a patient suffering from depression; performed "spinal manipulations" on a back-pain patient even though he is not an orthopedic specialist; and recommended marijuana injections to a child.
Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev, who filed the complaint, had urged that Dr. Yigal Schneider's medical license be permanently rescinded, but the ministry's complaints commissioner, former Jerusalem District Court judge Vardy Zeiler, decided merely to suspend the license until 2010 because of "extenuating circumstances."
Schneider was also criticized for having a "neglected clinic," with open cat-food cans on the floor, and of failing to keep mandatory medical records of patients' treatment.
All of these behaviors are "inappropriate to a physician," the ministry said.
"He [falsely] presented himself as an orthopedist and even focused his work on giving treatment to patients that he claimed eases their pain, whether from migraine or orthopedic conditions," the ministry's file says.
Schneider claimed that calcium or similar materials are the cause of pains, and said they would be "banished by a conservative, non-invasive medical technique."
The ministry said that he adapted a drill-like device and used it on patients to shake up patients' bodies and "remove" the calcium and "relieve" their pain.
However, the ministry said, this technique is not used by any other Israeli physician (except one, whom Schneider claimed "copied it" from him), and is completely unproven.
He also gave pain patients pethidine, a strong and potentially toxic opioid known commercially as Demerol, by injection - even to high-risk patients such as those suffering from depression and anxiety. He also suggested marijuana shots to a girl who was a patient.
A year after a woman became his patient, Schneider had sexual relations from her that led to the woman's divorce from her husband, the ministry said.
These relations have continued regularly, even though his lover is "mentally fragile and needs psychological treatment from time to time. He even gave her a reserve of pethidine that she could inject into herself when needed, the ministry said, and uses his medical authority to continue his relationship with her.
Yet Zeiler decided not to abrogate Schneider's license, partly because there is not a clear prohibition against giving injections and orthopedic manipulations to patients. Instead he ruled that the physician would have to "upgrade his professional medical proficiency significantly" and that without it, he could endanger his patients "with techniques whose legitimacy is criticized or doubted" by the medical establishment. Zeiler said he hoped that until 2010, when he may resume his practice, Schneider "will improve his professional knowledge and behavior."
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