Who doesn’t enjoy a good impersonation when it’s done for entertainment? Watching Jimmy Fallon impersonate Mick Jagger or Frank Caliendo as John Madden can make you laugh until it hurts. But the fun goes away when people with ill intent impersonate an authority figure like a police officer or a doctor. We entrust our lives, health, and safety to the people who fill those roles, and we are taught from a young age to trust and rely on them. “Hey, little Joey, when you’re in trouble, find a policeman.” “Ella, do what the doctor said. Stay in bed and rest so you can get better.”

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Medical staff impersonators are one of the reasons hospitals need to be ever vigilant about engaging with everyone in their facility. Some institutions make it frighteningly easy for an imposter to slip into their ranks. Just because someone is wearing scrubs, carrying a clipboard, and speaking with authority, does not mean they belong in your facility. On the Dr. Phil show in October 2014, Matthew Scheidt, a felon convicted of impersonating a doctor, said he was able to get a physician assistant’s ID just by asking for a badge from Human Resources. As a “physician’s assistant,” he treated patients and even performed CPR.1

Don’t assume your hospital is immune. Healthcare facilities across the country have been affected by impersonators, putting their patients at risk. In 2015, there have been several cases of people impersonating medical staff. Here is just a sampling:

January: In West Palm Beach, Florida, a teen dressed in a lab coat was found in an exam room. Apparently, the teenager had been hanging around the hospital for about a month.2

February: A man posing as a doctor scammed patients out of thousands of dollars, and even worse, physically and emotionally scarred many of them for life. Not having a license did not stop him from dispensing drugs and performing procedures like liposuction.3

March: A Maryland woman was sentenced to three years in prison for impersonating a physician assistant. She diagnosed and treated infants and children and even wrote over 400 prescriptions for controlled substances.4

May: A man was arrested in Dallas, Texas, for impersonating a physician at a children’s hospital.5

July: An elderly patient was robbed in her hospital room by a woman pretending to be an employee at the hospital. The woman removed the patient’s jewelry and stole her purse.6

Quality patient care is dependent on a safe environment, and, in order to ensure a safe environment, a hospital must be able to engage with every individual who comes through their doors. Facilities need to make sure each person is who they say they are and are actually qualified for their role. With , everyone, including physicians, patients, visitors, vendors, and volunteers, is managed to the best of the best standards as determined by the requirements of the most highly regarded regulatory agencies, recommendations from the WHO and CDC, and best practices taken from safe hospitals around the country. How do you create a safe environment within your facility? Remain vigilant through the experience.

intellicentrics_culture_of_safety_checklist

Sources:

  1. Dr. Phil
  2. KWWL.com
  3. WKOW.com
  4. Becker’s Hospital Review
  5. Becker’s Hospital Review
  6. Becker’s Hospital Review

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