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Intern with fake degree saw 400 patients
Mon, Mar 01, 2010
The Straits Times

By Linus Lin

A SINGAPOREAN has been arrested in Australia for using a fake degree to masquerade as a doctor.

The 29-year-old is believed to have dropped out of the University of Adelaide's medical programme.

But that apparently did not stop him from getting an internship last May at the Alice Springs Hospital, where he worked until his arrest on Wednesday.

The truth finally came to light when senior doctors supervising him became concerned over his performance and checked with the University of Adelaide.

The hospital then alerted the Northern Territory Police.

'We can confirm that the man arrested is a 29-year-old Singapore national,' a police spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday, but she declined to name the man.

The hospital in Alice Springs - the second-largest city in Australia's Northern Territory - told The Straits Times that the Singaporean was a junior doctor in the Medicine, Surgery and Emergency Department.

He did not perform any surgical work, but may have come into contact with at least 400 patients while working there.

The hospital said that its director of emergency medicine had reviewed all of those cases and 'is confident that all aspects of care were supervised and that the appropriate care was provided'.

Australian media reported that although the suspect had produced a medical degree from the University of Adelaide, he had attended courses there for only two years and had not completed the full programme, which usually takes six years.

But his fake degree was such a high-quality forgery that it was cleared by the Medical Board of the Northern Territory, the region's regulatory body for medical practitioners.

Dr Charles Kilburn, who chairs the board, was quoted as saying that the fake degree even bore the signature of an Australian Justice of the Peace.

The board had earlier granted the Singaporean conditional registration to work as an intern at the hospital on the basis of the fraudulent degree.

A spokesman for the University of Adelaide confirmed that although the suspect never completed a medical degree, he had previously graduated with a bachelor's degree in health sciences.

The Northern Territory police are investigating.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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