Are The Credentials of Doctors Being Checked? – Part 1

This week, the Associated Press released a rather alarming story. It was about a man who pretended to have medical credentials, and used these credentials to teach and train many doctors.

This case brings up some serious questions about whether medical organizations are properly protecting their patients from medical malpractice and other risks in their checking of doctors’ credentials. Today, we will discuss the actions of the man, and the impact these actions had on patients.

The man in question was a pilot. He also claimed to be a cardiologist. He claimed to have a medical degree, a Ph.D. and over a decade’s worth of clinical experience. However, it turned out that none of this was true.

Despite not having any of his claimed qualifications, he maintained the ruse of being a cardiologist for many years and fooled many major medical organizations. He reportedly had been claiming false credentials as early as eighteen years ago. And since that time, he has been involved in numerous medical training programs and has taught numerous seminars at medical conferences. He even held a position at a Michigan hospital.

The man was finally revealed as a fake earlier this year. A clerk discovered this when checking the man’s credential for a grant application.

Thankfully, in this case, it appears that no patients were harmed because of this man’s actions. It is suspected that the man never treated a patient during his time of pretending to be a doctor. Also, the type of training the man gave to other doctors was mostly about teamwork, and thus was never focused on actual medical training. Some organizations claim that the man really didn’t need to have a medical degree to do the types of thing he was doing.

However, this situation does demonstrate a real problem that could potentially have a major impact on patients. We will discuss this problem and its implications next week.

Source: The Associated Press, “AP EXCLUSIVE: Pilot duped AMA with fake M.D. claim,” 12 Dec 2010