When we visit a doctor's office in Connecticut, even with a simple cough due to a cold, we expect that our doctor knows enough to detect pneumonia, bronchitis or whooping cough. But what if your doctor isn't really a doctor at all? Amazingly that situation happened recently for roughly 500 patients over a one year time period.
A 48-year-old man from Georgia is accused of stealing a physician's identity and practicing medicine without a license, or even a medical degree, in South Carolina. Should any diagnosis have been missed, or other illness or injury result due to this misrepresentation, those who are injured could certainly allege medical malpractice and seek damages in civil court.
According to news sources, the 48-year-old man is a friend of the real doctor who was away teaching medicine in Guyana for a year. The two men look similar, and the 48-year-old man was able to pass for the physician while practicing at four different senior clinics. Some of his patients died, although it was not yet determined if they died as a result of any action or inaction on the part of the pseudo physician.
The 48-year-old's identity was discovered when a small paperwork error was discovered on a death certificate. The coroner contacted the real doctor, who said he hadn't practiced in Georgia or South Carolina for about one year.
The clinics at which the 48-year-old man was seeing patients are combing through all of their patient records to see if any harm was done or errors made. So far they have found nothing.
The 48-year-old is in serious trouble, particularly if it is revealed that any patient died while in his care. In that case the surviving family members could sue for wrongful death.
Source: Associated Press, "Sheriff: Man stole doctor's ID, saw 500 patients," Jeffrey Collins, Aug. 31, 2012
Our Stamford law firm handles a wide variety of medical malpractice cases, including cases involving diagnosis-related negligence.