A 17-year-old Australian was arrested today for impersonating a physician at several hospitals in Adelaide, doing rounds while wearing scrubs and a stethoscope around his neck, and prescribing drugs to patients, authorities told local media.
The teen, whom health officials warned hospitals about in December, is thought to have started impersonating a doctor as early as October. He was charged with administering prescription drugs, aggravated assault and identity theft, according to the Adelaide Advertiser, which broke the story.
The phony physician, whom authorities have not identified because of his age, had been spotted at three hospitals wearing fake credentials, before his arrest while assisting a 12-year-old girl who had been injured in a scooter accident.
The incident is reminiscent of the film “Catch Me If You Can,” based on the life of Frank Abagnale, a teenaged conman who impersonated a physician, lawyer and airline pilot before getting caught in 1969 when he was just 21.
The state of South Australia health department warned in December of a “bogus clinician” making rounds, and hospital staff had taken to calling him “Dr. Who.”
According to the December health department memo, the boy had ”not to date committed substantive offenses but, should he make physical contact with a patient posing as a clinician, this would constitute criminal assault.”
The teenager was suspended as a volunteer in November 2011 for “inappropriate behavior,” according to the Advertiser.
The teen posted bail and will be arraigned at a youth court in the future, according to the paper.
Last August, in a similar case in the U.S., 18-year-old Matthew Scheidt was arrested for impersonating a physician’s assistant at a Florida hospital.