Patients who are treated by doctors expect that their doctors have been adequately trained. It is well-known that doctors endure years of medical school and residency in order to be prepared to treat patients and avoid things like misdiagnosis. But what happens when a doctor has been trained by someone who lied about their medical degree?
Several days ago, The Associated Press discovered that William Hamman, a pilot, had falsely claimed that he had a medical degree from a well-known medical school in the Midwest. It is unclear how long he had been misrepresenting himself, but records from the early 1990's list an M.D. as one of his credentials.
Hamman has allegedly never treated an individual, but he worked at hospitals and lead cardiology training sessions for other physicians. He also proposed several grants, some of which brought in millions of dollars. His false credentials were discovered when the hospital he worked for did a check on his medical degree.
Many groups that brought Hamman in to speak at their conferences assumed that his medical degree was legitimate because other groups had used him for training. Though there is no report yet of patients who were affected by his lies, there are at least two groups of victims in this situation: the doctors Hamman trained and the patients of those doctors.
Doctors are responsible for people's lives and any training they are given should be given by authorities in the profession. Hamman was not licensed as a doctor, having dropped out of medical school. Fortunately, the doctors who received his training will not have those education credits revoked. But many of them may wonder if the training they received was faulty or incorrect.
Those doctors' patients are the other victims of Hamman's lie. They rely on their physicians to provide accurate treatment. If their doctor's training is questionable, there is a greater chance for some sort of error.
But who should be held responsible: the hospital or the groups that provided training? Regardless, it is still clear that somewhere along the line, someone was negligent in checking his background.
Source: The Associated Press online, "AP Exclusive: Pilot duped AMA with fake M.D. claim," 12 December 2010