Trust me, I’m a fake doctor: how medical imposters thrive in the real world
Versions of Jodie Whittakers bogus TV medic do exist. But fantasists and charlatans tend to operate outside the hospital, where victims have been assaulted, misdiagnosed or offered false hope
Within the first half-hour of the BBCs psychological thriller Trust Me, Cath (a former nurse) had stolen her doctor friends identity, picked up some suturing skills from YouTube, and was handling a stethoscope like a pro. Before you could say: Adrenaline, STAT!, Cath (played by Jodie Whittaker) was a fake doctor at an Edinburgh hospital, yanking twisted ankles into place and shoving chest drains where they belonged.
It couldnt happen in real life, though, could it? It already has. Others with medical backgrounds have posed as fully fledged doctors before. Take Levon Mkhitarian who encountered 3,363 patients in two years, working across seven NHS trusts on oncology, cardiology, transplant and surgical wards as well as in A&E. Mkhitarian, originally from Georgia, had graduated from medical school in the Caribbean island of Grenada and received provisional registration from the General Medical Council (GMC) to work specifically under supervision here. But he failed to complete the year. He went on to fraudulently secure a job anyway, was caught, and then promptly struck off. Undeterred, he forged a host of documents including a medical degree and energy bills, stealing the identity of a genuine doctor. The IT department of the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, Kent, finally rumbled Mkhitarian when he applied for a security pass in the name of another doctor. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges and in July 2015 was sentenced to six years in prison.