Adelaide, Australia – Yet another teen has been arrested for impersonating a physician, in Australia this time. Friday the unidentified 17-year-old was detained on suspicion of prescribing medications, and donning fake medical credentials and scrubs. He’s being charged with aggravated assault and identity theft.
This “Dr. Who” suspect is one in a string of reports from as far back as October, of a young so-called doctor parading around hospitals in Adelaide. In each incident the teen was caught and tossed from the hospital grounds. On one occasion he assisted in the treatment of a 12-year-old girl injured in a scooter accident. The teen was ousted as a hospital volunteer for “inappropriate behavior” back in November 2011.
Impersonating a medical professional is a serious liability to hospitals, employees, and patients. Staff depends on the assumed skill of the individual donning the false persona and patients listen to their ill-instructed health advice.
As a result of his actions, the South Australian health department will be implementing more strict security measures.
The wannabe teen physician’s behavior is indicative of 18-year-old Matthew Scheidt, the “Catch Me If You Can” youth arrested in September 2012 after he was caught impersonating a physician’s assistant in a Florida hospital. He too performed unauthorized procedures on patients including dressing wounds, CPR, and seeing vulnerable patients disrobe.
These cases are reminiscent of teen conman Frank Abagnale, when as a young man had a history of being a charlatan, check-forger, impostor, and escape artist. He’s renowned for claiming to have assumed several false identities including airline pilot, a doctor, a US Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer. Abagnale is now 64. After serving time in prison he became a security consultant.
South Australia’s Criminal Law Consolidation (Identity Theft) Amendment Act 2004 outlaws assuming a false identity of another person, living or dead, real or fictional, natural or corporate, and representing one-self under false pretenses, even if the person acts with the consent of the person whose identity is falsely assumed. Representing under false pretense is a serious criminal offence. In Australia, each state has enacted laws that deal with different aspects of identity or fraud issues.
Why do you think there is a sudden uptake of young men posing as medical professionals?
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