- The hospital said it had called in the police who have arrested him and investigations into the fraud are continuing.
By Mutsa Makuvaza and Rethabile Nyathi
IT took seven months for staff at Parirenyatwa, the country’s biggest hospital, to figure out that a 25-year-old man wearing a white coat and a stethoscope was a total fraud and had no medical qualifications whatsoever despite “working” in the hospital’s casualty unit.
Admire Chisi pushed his luck too far and was finally rumbled out this week when the hospital’s head of casualty received reports from hospital staff that the young “doctor” looked uncharacteristically ignorant of basic medical procedures.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals yesterday issued a statement confirming Chisi was a fake doctor.
“On October 20 2020, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals discovered that the Accident and Emergency Department had been infiltrated by a fake medical doctor who posed as a physician registrar.
“The matter was discovered after our vigilant casualty staff doubted his medical proficiency and made some inquiries,” reads the statement.
The hospital said it had called in the police who have arrested him and investigations into the fraud are continuing. He could ne charged with impersonating or worse, depending on whether his presence at the medical facility posed a life risk to any patients.
“The suspect has been handed over to the police who are now handling the matter,” said the hospital.
When police swooped on the mischief maker, they searched him and recovered a stethoscope, medical needles, medical hair caps and other medical tools. It was not immediately clear what the young man sought to achieve with his act.
According to the State-owned Herald newspaper, Chisi took advantage of the doctors’ strike and the general staff shortage in the health sector to penetrate the hospital system in April this year.
Yet that should have been the hardest period for him to penetrate the hospital staff considering the nation was under a Covid-19 lockdown and public hospitals were highly secured. The fact that Chisi pulled it off easily at that time has left lawyers, security experts and the police bamboozled.
Could it be that the increased pressure on senior medical staff meant it took so long to figure out he was a very bad doctor if qualified?
Journalists visited Chisi’s house in Ruwa and were shocked find that even his neighbours had been sold the dummy that he was a genuine doctor working at Parirenyatwa Hospital. Of course, they had no reason to doubt him!
“Admire stays here and we know him as a medical doctor. He goes to Parirenyatwa Hospital daily. He stays here with a friend and his sister joined him recently,” said a neighbour identified as Brian Chivona.
The incident has left the Zimbabwe Medical and Dental Practitioners Council president Dr Francis Chirowa angry. Chirowa said it was surprising that a hospital with sectional heads could take that long to detect the fraud.
“One cannot just walk into the hospital and assume duties of a medical practitioner without producing a practicing certificate. It is surprising considering there is a head of Casualty who should be able to know all the doctors under him and ensure there is a duty roster for all staff,” he said.
Dr Chirowa said Chisi’s case was the third such fraud since independence and measures must be put in place to protect patients.
“In the 1980s we had a similar case at Harare Hospital (now Sally Mugabe Hospital) where someone masqueraded as a doctor. We also had another case of another man who illegally practiced at Mpilo, United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mberengwa. That one ended up causing deaths.
“The Parirenyatwa case is now the third one and there is need for management at hospitals to be more vigilant to save our patients from fake doctors,” he said.
Prominent labour lawyer Mr Caleb Mucheche told the Herald that hospital management exhibited negligence and serious dereliction of duty.
“Failure to detect such a bogus doctor for that long smacks of gross negligence or dereliction of duty by hospital management, human resources and security departments.
Mr Mucheche said the bogus doctor committed a serious criminal offence by falsely posing as a doctor and endangering human lives at such a big and busy hospital especially now during the coronavirus lockdown. He called for a complete overhaul of departmental procedures at the country’s biggest and busiest hospital.
“There is need for an overhaul of management, human resources department and security departments at that hospital to prevent future incidents like this,” he said.
Mr Brian Kashangura of Vandrift Security Services said the case exposes the laxity of the security at the hospital and called for the chief executive officer to do the honourable thing and resign.
“It clearly shows there are no systems to protect patients at the hospital. How can a stranger work for that long without being questioned? The chief executive officer should do the honourable thing and step down,” he said.
Mr Wellington Pasipanodya, a lawyer with Manase & Manase Legal Practitioners said mischief-makers like Chisi are found in many sectors of the workplace but the health profession must introduce more stringent security measures to detect bogus doctors in time.
“This type of mischief is common to many professions in Zimbabwe. What needs to be done is to introduce an electronic tag system to identify each hospital staff member using identity tags. Further, all doctors must be issued with practicing certificates which can be produced upon demand by the general public.
“Lastly, ordinary accountability systems like staff meetings, duty rosters and random spot checks of medical personnel against the database of the Health Professions Authority can be done to prevent a repeat of this act,” he said.
It is not yet clear if Chisi had been drawing a salary for the seven months he has been “working” at the hospital. Also, investigators will seek to establish whether the bogus doctor’s presence at the facility caused any loss of life or health risk to patients.
Another lawyer speaking on condition of anonymity told the Zimbabwe Voice that the hospital could find itself facing huge, draining lawsuits if it ever turns out that some patients who Chisi attended to decide to sue.
“The hospital bosses better pray this fraudulent doctor didn’t touch a patient who subsequently died. They’ll be sued down to the bricks on their walls. But even if no one died as a result, the mere fact that the fake doctor was attending to patients can cause real big legal trouble for the hospital.” ■