Medical con. No surprise
Photo Courtesy of: The Guardian
IT IS AWFUL, but telling, when your first reaction to a medical scandal in Australia these days is: Why doesn’t this surprise me? Especially when it is in Victoria.
That was my immediate reaction when I read in The Guardian that a radiologist who fled sex offence charges in the United States was now merrily working in Shepparton under the name Robert Taylor.
His real name is Max Mehta. He allegedly groomed a 15-year-old deaf girl online for sexual purposes and was arrested when he arrived at an address he believed to be the teenager’s home. The ‘victim’ was actually a police officer posing as a child.
Mehta, now 45, was charged in Dallas, Texas, with soliciting a minor for sexual assault (which could have got him ten years jail) but skipped $100,000 bail and fled to New Zealand in 2005. He changed his name by deed poll in 2007 and in 2008 was granted New Zealand citizenship.
In 2009, Mehta moved to Australia on a Trans-Tasman New Zealand visa and is now working as a radiologist with Goulburn Valley Imaging Group in Shepparton, Victoria. He started there a year ago after practicing in Western Australia and NSW.
According to The Guardian: In January last year, Mehta was found to have forged signatures on medical accreditation documents to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Radiologists.
child sex offence charges
After an investigation, his medical registration was suspended and Mehta was ordered to complete an ethics course after which he was readmitted to the medical registration board, allowing him to continue working.
At no point did Mehta disclose his child sex offence charges or his name change when applying for Australian jobs.
A former colleague, Dr Rauf Yousef, said he alerted several authorities to Mehta’s history in the US but none took any action. Dr Yousef is one of the practitioners whose signature Mehta forged.
It again raises questions over how stringent are our medical authorities when checking the credentials of foreign doctors applying to work here. Obviously not very.
I said I wasn’t surprised. Especially when I read how useless (and uncooperative) AHPRA had been. These guys wouldn’t know if a tram was up them unless the driver rang the bell.
party boy American medico
It reminded me of the case of the notorious junkie doctor Keith Michael Kolodzej. I exposed him on 3AW three years ago when he was audaciously working at Victorian hospitals in Colac and Lorne. Possibly still does.
The handsome party boy American medico was banned from practicing over there because of alcohol abuse and cocaine use.
He had his licence revoked in Indiana in August 2007 then immediately came to Australia to work in the emergency department at Townsville Hospital for two years before joining Colac Hospital and doing after hours work at Lorne Hospital.
The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana found Kolodzej guilty of repeated alcohol abuse and he recorded several positive urine and hair tests for cocaine.
In revoking his licence to practice (which hasn’t deterred him at three Australian hospitals) the medical board found that the doctor: ‘continued to practice although unfit due to addiction to, abuse of, or severe dependency upon alcohol or other drugs that endanger the public by impairing a practitioner’s ability to safely practice’.
So Kolodzej’s licence was revoked. He did not appeal the board’s ruling and he is still prohibited from practicing medicine in Indiana today.
But that doesn’t seem to apply here in Australia where it seems anything goes. Our probity and criminal checks are pathetic.
I guess Mehta took a page out of Kolodzej’s conman report book. When I first looked up Dr. K’s entry on the AHPRA website, it said:
Like Mehta, he is, for the record, a cleanskin. Which is bullshit.
My question three years ago remains as relevant: How can a man considered unsafe to practice medicine in the U.S. by a state medical board remain on staff at Colac Hospital? A man a state medical board said was impaired and unfit to practice and to continue holding a licence would endanger the public’s safety. Are we that desperate for doctors that we will take rejects from overseas?