A teenage boy has been impersonating doctors at hospitals, wearing scrubs and a stethoscope and reading patient notes.
The state health authority in South Australia has warned staff about the "bogus clinician" who "walks around with a clipboard" after numerous sightings. The teenager has been compared to Frank Abagnale, who posed as a doctor and a pilot and inspired the film Catch Me If You Can.
The youth, believed to be 16, has been seen on wards at the Royal Adelaide Hospital wearing a name badge and uniform, and at Flinders Medical Centre, wearing an official lanyard and a stethoscope. He is reportedly confident and well-versed in medical language and terminology.
The youth is known to authorities and was apparently expelled as an ambulance volunteer earlier this year for inappropriate behaviour. Aside from his hospital appearances, he has reportedly been seen around Adelaide posing as a doctor and offering first aid to the public.
A warning issued by SA Health said the youth had been seen on wards at the Royal Adelaide at least three times since October. It added that he had "not to date committed substantive offences, but should he make physical contact with a patient, posing as a clinician, this would constitute criminal assault".
The state's police said they had spoken to the youth but could not arrest him because he was not known to have committed a crime.
"Police are aware of a youth who has been seen at both the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre with a stethoscope around his neck," they said in a statement. "Police have attended at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and spoken to the youth, however no related criminal behaviour was identified. In conjunction with health authorities, police will take appropriate action where criminal offences are disclosed."
The state's health minister, John Hill, said authorities were concerned but the youth was not believed to have approached or touched any patients.
"He walks around with a clipboard and just talks to people," he said.
"This is not something we want in our hospitals, we would like to ensure it doesn't happen any further."
The Telegraph, London