Fraudulent Nurses – I was reading an article in an ABC newsletter, “The fake doctors who get away with medical fraud”, by Philippa Martyr, 10 Apr 2018. The focus was on two cases in Australia, one in Melbourne where the doctor was working in a speciality area while lacking credentials, the other in NSW was a man using a stolen identity of a doctor while he lacked any medical training at all. Both had managed for years to continue their frauds and were only exposed when in each case an employer made a notification to AHPRA.
The rest of the article explored the reasons for someone doing this, issues of status, income and of course the long, complex and demanding education that is required.
There have been cases of fraudulent nurses being exposed in Australia. We need to appreciate how the legislation creating AHPRA and the Nurses Act also created the protected title for nurse, enrolled nurse and midwives. While there has been over the decade’s many people claiming the titles and being exposed, with this legislation it is now a criminal offence to claim the title.
I have met colleagues who believed that they were working with someone who was so lacking in skills and capacity they suspected they were claiming credentials they did not in fact have. Some situations were in relation to “overseas trained” staff, others were not.
Certainly, as an educator a long time ago, I had the experience of identifying a person seeking Australian registration based on fake overseas credentials. This person had no intention working as a nurse once they gained education and approval to apply for registration, it was all done to access a visa. There were no consequences professionally when this was exposed, there was no legal route to bring them to task but of course, the immigration department was very interested.
While many of the fraudulent nurses get some media coverage others are only reported in the professional tribunal transcripts. These are published and it seems there are one or two a year.
The point I am making I think is that we tend to fear and worry about the powers of our regulating bodies, see them as a threat and causing anxiety but turn it around and see them as doing their job, protecting the public and our profession then being grateful they are there to investigate and where necessary expose these frauds is a positive. Knowing the profession has a protected title and respecting these titles is important.
There will always be folk who think they can access the benefits of the profession without the work and effort in obtaining the credentials honestly. It doesn’t really matter why they do this, we each have an obligation to investigate and if necessary notify when and if we suspect a fraud.
It may be the individual needs further education to overcome deficits, it may be cultural or language issues that create suspicion, hopefully not racist or bullying behaviour but better to identify early rather than like the two doctors in the article let them go for years putting everyone at risk.
There are some fabulous webinar recordings by Pam Savage regarding Nurses and the Law on the Nurses for Nurses Network. The Nurses for Nurses Network provides good information and CPD on an array of nursing topics in a range of easy learning ways including webinars and quizzes on the latest information that Nurses need to know – remember the Nurses for Nurses Network was created by Australian Nurses for Nurses! www.nursesfornurses.com.au