Fake NSW doctor case could lead to medical negligence claims

Date: Mar 15, 2017

A man who allegedly stole an Indian doctor's identity and has worked in NSW hospitals for over a decade is now being charged with impersonating a medical practitioner.

Shyam Acharya, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, is said to have worked for NSW Health from 2003 to 2014 across hospitals in Gosford, Manly, Wyong and Hornsby.

Mr Acharya was operating under the name of Sarang Chitale and officially registered with the Medical Board of NSW upon arriving in Australia from India in 2003.

According to reports, he used fraudulent documents and stolen medical qualifications in order to support his deception while working as a junior doctor.

Are medical negligence claims on the horizon?

The case is likely to raise questions about the patients that were treated under his care, with one specific incident potentially leading to a medical negligence claim.

While details of the event are scarce, it is believed Mr Acharya was a member of a team that was reported because of concerns over the treatment provided. The patient's solicitors have been informed of the news.

"It is quite disturbing that a foreign national could get through our border protection with a false passport and ID based on an Indian citizen who had trained as a doctor," said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

"I will raise it at this month's COAG Health Minister's meeting to see whether the checks and balances are in place at a national level so that this can't occur again."

AHPRA pursues charges

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has confirmed that it is laying charges against Mr Acharya for breaching Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

The maximum fine he could face is $30,000, although it is believed Mr Acharya may have already fled the country.

NSW Health Deputy Secretary Karen Crawshaw has tried to allay concerns about Mr Acharya, claiming that the Medical Council of NSW and the Health Care Complaints Commission have received no reports about him.

However, the case could still lead to medical negligence claims in the future if previous patients of the alleged fraudster believe they may have received substandard care or treatments.

"If he's working in a hospital, what was he actually doing in the hospital? I mean he had to have been conducting medical procedures of some sort," Medical Error Action Group founder Lorraine Long told the ABC.

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