Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor

Kristina Ross, 36, decided that it was time to give back to the Idaho community that had given her so much over the years, so she decided to provide complimentary breast exams to several citizens. By all accounts she was as thorough as she was enthusiastic, and unlike other physicians she provided the added convenience of meeting her patients outside the office on a flexible time table. In fact, several recipients were so impressed by Ross’s professionalism and attention to detail they called her office to schedule traditional consultations.

Dr. Aussieahshowna
Unfortunately, Miss Ross was not, and had never been, a physician. Furthermore, she had given the exams to patrons of area nightclubs while identifying herself as plastic surgeon Dr. Berlyn Aussieahshowna (pronounced awe-sea-uh-show –nuh). The ruse was discovered when her “victims” called the number she gave them and were curtly informed that they had no record of a Dr. Aussieashowna. Devastated by the deception, some of her patients called the authorities and she was quickly taken into custody.

Once Miss Ross was booked and processed it became apparent that she had been in trouble with the law before, but as a man. In 2004, Mr. Ross had served time for aggravated assault before apparently undergoing gender reassignment surgery. Miss Ross is currently being held for practicing medicine without a license and prosecutors fear that Dr. Aussieashowna may have several other “patients” who have yet to come forward.

While being fondled in a nightclub must be unpleasant, I do have limited sympathy for the victims. After all, a doctor approaching random women in a nightclub and asking to inspect their breasts should be unable to locate one taker, let alone several in a single night. Some of the women have indicated that any reluctance they felt was alleviated by her use of “medical words” and the fact that she recited the phone number of a “real clinic.” Well congratulations bar patrons, your screening process concerning physicians apparently requires only memorizing a telephone number and using the word “areola” in a sentence.

The fact that such a charade could produce so many victims has undoubtedly caused emergency meetings at fraternity houses across the country where the “Its OK baby, I am pre-med” routine was dismissed as implausible. Does it seem likely that any physician (after what we can assume was a grueling 12+ hour shift) would deliberately seek out patients to offer their expertise without charging them for an office visit? A simple rule of thumb, the thin line that separates sexual assault from medical examination is usually a billing department.

Dr. Aussieahshowna’s deception is hardly unique. Just a few weeks ago in Delaware, a man walked into a Newark hospital and administered three physical exams to female patients before someone thought to ask if he even worked there. Although he lacked any credentials or identification, the man was wearing a white coat (working in the meat department at Kroger apparently has its perks) so no one bothered to question his motives. As of this writing the police have not yet made any arrests.

Perhaps the most prolific pretend doctor of the last quarter century would have to be Kentucky resident Dean Alan Willoughby, who began his illustrious career in South Carolina where he ran a fabricated university study. In the course of his groundbreaking research, Willoughby performed over two hundred invasive physical examinations on male and female patients before he was arrested. Sadly, Dr. Dean’s subsequent conviction would cost him his position as an associate pastor but did not diminish his love of practicing imaginary medicine. After serving two years of his sentence he packed his bags and headed to the bluegrass state for a fresh start.

Once there, he opened an office and began paying fifty dollars for patients to take part in his medical “research” and an extra twenty dollars for each new patient they referred. He performed countless prostate exams and hernia checks over the next decade before a lengthy investigation brought him down. He was sentenced on seventy-five counts of practicing medicine without a license and fifteen counts of sexual assault. 
He has not yet indicated whether he will open a satellite clinic inside the penal system.

So what can we learn from these stories?
  • Board-certified physicians rarely hold impromptu breast screenings in Idaho night-clubs.
  • Just because someone is in possession of a white lab coat it does not mean that they are qualified to do anything other than teach a high school chemistry class or deli slice a ham.
  • If someone named Dr. Dean asks you to remove your pants, examines your prostate and then hands you a fifty dollar bill there is a good chance that he actually works at AutoZone and you should immediately take a shower.
  • A HIPAA information sheet and a Youtube release form are not the same thing.

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