Impersonating A Doctor: Meaning, Consequences, Detect A Fake Doctor & More

Impersonating a doctor is risky, not just because you might get caught. It’s also because you could get hurt. And even if you get away with impersonating a doctor, you might still injure somebody. 

You could injure patients while trying to treat or injure them while trying to escape being caught. 

It has been reported that several fake doctors have committed crimes; even worse, they have killed their patients. This seems like a lot of trouble for a relatively simple deception. 

It is a criminal offense to impersonate a doctor. There are many reasons someone would choose to do so, but that doesn’t make it right. 

In this article, I will discuss some consequences of impersonating a doctor and what to do if you have been a victim of a doctor impostor.

What is impersonating a doctor?

Impersonating a doctor is when someone pretends to be a doctor and performs medical duties. This can include diagnosing, prescribing medications, and performing surgical procedures. 

It’s considered quackery when someone pretends to be knowledgeable or experienced, especially in medicine.

The penalties for impersonating a doctor vary from state to state but usually involve fines, imprisonment, or both.

The most common way people impersonate a doctor is by using a title or name that sounds similar to the real one. 

This can lead to confusion and complications for patients unaware of the difference between an actual medical professional and one who is not.

Other forms of impersonation involve false certificates and documents, which are often stolen or forged. 

These falsified documents may include medical licenses, diplomas, degrees, and certificates of completion for specific medical training programs.

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Why would someone want to impersonate a doctor in the first place?

Doctors are some of the most respected and revered professionals in the world. People view them as sources of knowledge and authority and often look to them for guidance on health and wellness issues. 

So it’s not surprising that people would want to impersonate a doctor to gain access to that knowledge and authority. There are a few reasons someone might impersonate a doctor

Some want to practice medicine without the requirement of a license. Some may be looking for drugs or money they think doctors might have. 

Others may be trying to scam someone out of money. In any case, it’s important to remember that no matter the motivation, an impersonator is still a criminal.

Impersonating a doctor can seem easy to get what you want. After all, who wouldn’t want to be infallible and have complete control? But there are a few things you need to know before taking this step. 

First and foremost, it’s illegal in most states to pretend to be a doctor. Skipping out on the educational requirements is also a big no-no. 

Furthermore, if you don’t have the proper credentials, you will likely end up getting caught. And finally, practicing medicine without a license is dangerous and could have severe consequences for you and/or your patients.

The bottom line is for whatsoever reason, it is not advisable to impersonate a doctor. 

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The consequences of impersonating a doctor

A man in handcuffs - lmshero

Impersonating a doctor may have several consequences, some of which are; 

Legal consequences

Impersonating a doctor is a serious crime with severe legal consequences. The consequences are so severe that impersonating a doctor is considered a felony in the United States. 

In Texas, you could be charged with healthcare fraud and face up to five years in prison, up to a $25,000 fine, or both. 

If you’re unaware, impersonating someone intending to commit fraud or harm is not only illegal but also morally wrong and downright dangerous. 

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Social consequences

Impersonating a doctor is an act of deception and can have serious social consequences. For starters, it can lead to a loss of trust. 

Patients may mistakenly believe that any health concerns they have are not legitimate and may hesitate to seek medical attention in the future. 

Additionally, those who pursue this type of career may find that their eligibility for insurance premiums increases significantly. 

And finally, those who falsely identify themselves as physicians may be subject to disciplinary action by the medical profession. 

Some states even have laws regulating the conduct of “impersonators” of all types of professionals. Protect your identity and stay safe – don’t try to fake your way through life.

How can you find out if a doctor is fake?

There’s a big difference between being a doctor and impersonating one. Impersonators prey on people in need, pretending to be able to help when they don’t have the resources or knowledge to do so. 

They can cause significant health problems for patients, resulting in lost wages, ruined careers, and even death. 

That’s why it’s essential to know an impersonator’s warning signs and stay safe when dealing with them. When in doubt, consider the following:

  • Ask around – your friends, family, and neighbors may have an opinion about whether a doctor is fake.
  • Check the doctor’s credentials – visit the doctor’s website or view their professional biography to ensure they are legitimate.
    When a doctor registers for certification, they are issued a certificate of registration that identifies them as a practitioner. They are given a practicing card with an expiration date every year.
    Patients have the right to request that the practitioner shows this to them before treatment.
  • Check out the doctor’s patient reviews – see if anyone has posted complaints about the doctor.
  • You can check their clinic’s license and certification, especially if it’s a private hospital
  • Get a second opinion from another doctor 

Another easy way is by calling the doctor and asking questions. Unprofessional or vague responses may indicate that you should seek medical care elsewhere.

What to do if you are a victim of a doctor impostor

If you suspect someone is impersonating a doctor, or if you’ve been the victim of a doctor impostor, report it to your local authorities. 

The person may have committed a crime such as practicing medicine without a license or identity theft. 

Many states also have consumer protection laws to protect victims from deceptive trade practices and false advertising. 

If you need more information on your specific state’s laws, contact the Attorney General’s office in your state.

Lastly, if you’re ever in doubt about who you’re talking to or if something feels weird, don’t hesitate to call the police.

SEE: Explore the differences between a police officer and a detective

FAQs

Is impersonating a doctor a felony?

In some states like Texas and California, impersonating a doctor can be a felony. In other states, it is considered a misdemeanor. Check your state’s law for more information.

What is the punishment for pretending to be a doctor?

The punishment for pretending to be a doctor is a jail term or a fine.

Can anyone just call themselves a doctor?

You cannot call yourself a doctor unless you are a medical doctor or have a doctorate.

Can a Doctor practice without a license?

If a doctor is practicing without a license, they are violating the law.

To practice medicine, you must obtain a medical degree from an accredited school and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) before being licensed.

Final thoughts

Some people may think that it is easy to impersonate a doctor. After all, they just wear scrubs, crocs, and a name tag. 

However, it is important to remember that the Doctor’s Oath is a solemn oath medical professionals take. Violating this oath can result in serious consequences, both personal and professional. 

So, if you’re thinking about pretending to be a doctor for a laugh or for a scam, please don’t do it. 

Also, there are plenty of safe ways to get the medical care you need without risking your safety or the safety of others.

There is no foolproof way to avoid being scammed as real doctors also get scammed, but you can do a few things to minimize your chances of being taken in. 

If you ever feel like someone is trying to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do, be suspicious. 

Don’t give away too much information until you better understand who you’re dealing with. And don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or proof that what the other person is saying is true.

You can also learn about the difference between a doctor and a physician.

Thanks for reading.