The extraordinary case of fake doctor, Shyam Acharya, employed in a number of NSW hospitals between 2003 and 2014, begs the question of just how many medical personnel in our hospitals actually know what they are doing.
Has the case of Jayant Patel come back to haunt us in NSW?
Shyam Acharya’s case brings to mind the story of Bundaberg Base Hospital’s Jayant Patel. Patel was an American doctor who had previously trained in India. He hid previous cases of medical malpractice when applying for registration with Queensland Health and also when he applied for a job in Bundaberg. He was implicated in many serious cases of medical bungling while employed at the hospital in Bundaberg, some of which led to the death of his patients. Charges laid against him for unlawful killing and grievous bodily harm were quashed but he did plead guilty to supplying false information for his registration and for employment. He was barred in 2015 from ever working as a doctor in Australia again.
Shyam Acharya was approved for registration with the NSW Medical Board the same year as Jayant Patel started as a doctor in 2003. Of course there is no direct connection between the two cases and as a result of Patel’s case, the requirements for registration across Australia have supposedly been tightened. These changes had not been made when Acharya allegedly used another doctor’s name and qualifications in order to obtain a job in this country.
Acharya is alleged to have stolen the identity of an Indian doctor, Sarang Chitale, both to gain immigration into Australia and to gain registration as a doctor in NSW.
Investigations into Acharya’s background have arisen because of a report of a patient initiating legal action against Acharya’s due to incompetency as a junior doctor. There were no details about the exact nature of the complaint at the time of writing of this blog.
Shyam Acharya worked as a junior doctor in various NSW hospitals between 2003 and 2014 where he ceased employment as a doctor and also ceased registration with NSW Medical Board. He apparently worked at Manly, Gosford, Hornsby and Wyong hospitals. In that time, it appears he almost always as part of a team with other doctors.
It appears that during this whole period, the fake doctor not only convinced the NSW Medical Board he was the real Sarang Chitale, who really had trained as a doctor in India, but he also gained employment, worked as a doctor (without training?!) and subsequently was granted Australian citizenship.
It appears that Shyam Acharya cum Chitale has now gone to ground. He supposedly established a medical communications business in Sydney in 2016, but he has yet to be contacted.
NSW Heath have stated that they do not know of any other complaint about the “doctor’s” conduct other than the one that has already been mentioned, but have appealed to any of his past patients to report any incident that may provide useful information about him.
Various authorities are looking for Shyam Acharya. He is facing a minimum of a fine of $30,000 for presenting false information to gain registration, but there are likely to be serious questions about the validity of his immigration status as well.
The story of Shyam Acharya is an unusual one, as very few doctors or any other medical personnel working in Australia are likely to be untrained the same way as Acharya. It does emphasise the importance of reporting concerns about medical impropriety or incompetence as soon as possible as it it may be possible to nip potential medical malpractice issues in the bud.
If you have any concerns about the way you have been treated by any medical professional or have been injured because of medical malpractice or incompetence, whether it was a misdiagnosis, poor surgical procedure, or any other issue you should talk to a lawyer. Compensation lawyers in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney can help you find the best lawyer for your case.