For the last six months, 26-year-old Subhrajit Panda has been diligently visiting Hyderbad’s Gandhi Hospital and watching how doctors treated their patients. But on Thursday, that was all proven to be a ruse after he was arrested by the Chilkalguda police for posing as a doctor and team member of the World Health Organisation examining coronavirus cases.
Panda, a resident of Uppal, is a biotechnology student who had hoped to make a quick buck by pretending to be a doctor. After opening a ‘clinic’ in Uppal, he wanted to observe the junior doctors examining patients at the hospital and then practice the same on his patients. He quickly learnt how to check the patient’s pulse rate and administer saline solution, police said.
Carrying a fake WHO identity card and claiming he was a volunteer proved to be the perfect cover-up for Panda, said Gandhi Hospital Superintendent P Shravan Kumar. Amidst the coronavirus and swine flu outbreak, no one suspected that he was merely posing as a member of the international health body.
“Teams of doctors from the Centre were visiting the hospital in the wake of swine flu and coronavirus, and the security saw his WHO card and provided access to him,” the hospital superintendent said.
Besides learning these techniques, he also used the hospital to attract patients to his clinic and drive business. “He carried visiting cards and would ask the patients there to visit his clinic,” said Chilkalguda SI Ravi Kumar.
The SI said that Panda managed to trick both doctors and students at the hospital. “He would visit several wards claiming to be a PG student,” the SI said.
On Thursday, Panda was sitting in the canteen wearing his fake WHO identity card. Some PG students struck up a conversation with him, asking about the WHO programme he was working with and about his medical speciality.
Panda responded, “I am a PG student pursuing general medicine.” But unfortunately for Panda, the students who enquired were also studying general medicine. “When they grilled him further, and asked for his identity card, he showed his WHO card,” the superintendent said.
As the students grew suspicious, Panda changed his story and said he was studying cardiology. Suspecting foul play, the students alerted authorities and Panda was caught and handed over to police
The hospital superintendent said that Panda managed to fool doctors by repeatedly changing his stream of study. “If the general medicine students asked him which student he was, he would say that he was from cardiology,” he said.
Police have charged Panda under sections 170 (personating public servant), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery) and 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) of IPC, besides booking him under Telangana Medical Practitioners Registration Act. Panda has been jailed in Cherlapally prison.