Thursday, February 12, 2009

Physician Assistant Impersonator -- Clinic Hired Unlicensed Man

How well do you screen your employees and new hires? According to authorities, in Orange County, a man (Steve Armand Martinez, age 60) handed a phony resume to several medical facilities in an attempt to get hired as a licensed physician assistant. The resume included a stolen assistant identification number. Martinez has never been licensed. He duped several medical facilities into hiring him. While working at these facilities for the past 2 years, he allegedly practiced medicine without a license by taking blood, administering IV drips and other invasive procedures.

Martinez was arrested on January 29, 2009, and charged with one felony count of the unauthorized practice of medicine, two felony counts of identity theft, one felony count of identity theft with the intent to defraud and one felony count of theft with a prior conviction for a 2004 theft. The prior theft conviction is one that should have been a red flag for the hiring medical clinics but it is not known whether they ran a background check on him.

As attorneys who protect peoples' rights under the Constitution, please remember that an indictment or felony complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.

On his resume, Martinez claimed to have worked at Martin Luther Hospital Medical Center in Anaheim, South County Urgent Care Center and San Clemente Hospital. He may also have worked at medical centers in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, prosecutors said.

Commentary- Physicians and health care providers need to think about the following things while hiring and supervising employees:

1. Run background checks on new hires and current employees. Once someone is hired, convictions and other problems can arise. If someone were convicted for a sexual related charge, for example, you would want to know since they are interacting with patients. Hospitals run background checks on a regular basis.

2. Think about whether any unlicensed personnel are going too far in doing invasive procedures with patients. We have seen individuals who were physicians or nurses in another country having trouble following the boundaries here in the United States. For example, in one case, a medical assistant who was a doctor in another country but unlicensed here was performing pap smears without the knowledge of the physician who owned the clinic. The same thing can happen with IVs or drawing blood. The supervising physician can then have problems with the Medical Board.

3. Assess the risk of not doing these small tasks on a yearly basis. Think about what the clinics in the case described above are having to do to unwind the fact that they probably billed for services provided by this unlicensed physician assistant.

Any questions or comments should be directed to: Tracy Green is a principal at Green and Associates. They focus their practice on the representation of individuals, businesses and licensed professionals, with an emphasis on health care professionals.


DISCLAIMER: Green & Associates' articles and blog postings are prepared as a service to the public and are not intended to grant rights or impose obligations. Nothing in this website should be construed as legal advice. Green & Associates' articles and blog postings may contain references or links to statutes, regulations, or other policy materials. The information provided is only intended to be a general summary. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. We encourage readers to review the specific statutes, regulations, and other interpretive materials for a full and accurate statement of their contents and contact their attorney for legal advice. The primary purpose of this website is not the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service and this website is not an advertisement or solicitation. Anyone viewing this web site in a state where the web site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state, should disregard this web site.

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to create, and does not create, a lawyer-client relationship with Green & Associates, Attorneys at Law. Sending an e-mail to Tracy Green does not contractually obligate them to represent you as your lawyer, or create any type of client relationship. No attorney-client relationship will be formed absent a written engagement or retainer letter agreement signed by both Green & Associates and client and which specifies the scope of the engagement.

Please note that e-mail transmission is not secure unless it is encrypted. E-mail messages sent to Ms. Green should not include confidential or sensitive information.