An Indian man allegedly stole another man’s identity card and falsely acted as a doctor for 11 years in New South Wales, Australia. The fake doctor, identified as Shyam Acharya, used the person’s qualification to get himself registered as a physician.
Acharya used the identity and qualification of Sarang Chitale and worked at Manly, Hornsby, Wyong and Gosford hospitals from 2003 to 2014. He got himself registered with the medical board of New South Wales (NSW) after allegedly stealing documents from Chitale while living in India.
His status as a junior doctor with limited registration meant that he needed supervision. However, it still remains unclear whether he had any medical experience before working in the country. He was involved in one critical incident In NSW where there were concerns about a patient's treatment. The health department, however, didn’t receive any further complaints about him.
The alleged deception was not detected until November 2016.
Acharya took up a role with Novotech, a private firm based in Sydney that runs clinical trials. The company became suspicious of his credentials and notified the concerned authorities.
“In September 2016, Novotech management became aware that he may have misrepresented his identity and qualifications. Novotech immediately took steps to investigate and contacted the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the NSW Police (amongst others).Those organizations conducted their own investigations into this issue with which Novotech fully cooperated," read the company’s statement.
Karen Crawshaw, deputy secretary NSW Health said the department was notified shortly afterwards and launched its own investigation.
If he is convicted, he faces a fine of up to $30,000. However, according to Brad Hazzard, New South Wales health minister, it is believed that Acharya has fled the country and his current whereabouts remain unknown.
“I have also directed the Ministry of Health to look at every aspect of registration to make sure that NSW Health has done whatever it can to look beyond fake passports with particular reference to going back to primary documents from country of origin,” said Hazzard.
Professor Brad Frankum, of the Australian Medical Association NSW, also raised his concerns, “it was a worry (Acharya) was able to fool the system for so long. It was a long time ago that the person faked their way in ... and the system is more robust now than it was."
Fake doctor exposed now on the run!https://t.co/C36MPwckAn— Senake Rajapakse (@SenakeRajapakse) March 8, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Regis Duvignau