Deceiving patients and defecation
IMAGINE this scene. I am interrupted by a call while consulting. A patient has just received an invitation to participate in the national bowel screening program. She is apprehensive and asks for my advice.
“I completely sympathise with your suspicions. There are so many scams around these days. But this is truly a worthwhile opportunity. With all the crap that government has been dishing out lately, this is your chance to finally give some back.
“I know it’s just a small sample, but think of it as honest ‘feedback’.”
If that’s not exactly what I said, that is what I was thinking. How much more colourful my conversations would be if I wasn’t a professional!
The patient sitting right in front of me chuckled as I hung up the phone. He had obviously overheard my promotion of the scheme.
“Is she worried about defecation fraud?”
Defecation fraud. What a wonderful new term. It was a name worthy of inclusion in the latest listing of low crimes and gross misdemeanours.
Little did I realise that later that week I would encounter a true case of this class of fraud.
Because, in addition to diagnosing and treating, empathising and consoling, I am also privy to a plethora of confessions, worthy of the Pope’s ear.
Joe had a history of colonic polyps and was scheduled for a surveillance colonoscopy when he received his national bowel screening kit. His wife was not eligible to receive her FOBT for several years, but was worried about her GI health. So Joe graciously offered his test to his wife.
They submitted her specimen under his name and fortunately it came back negative. Otherwise you could imagine the bureaucratic hoopla if it came back positive and I referred her for colonoscopy, indicating she had been picked up through the national program using a false identity.
Then again, with her husband’s colonoscopy already booked, maybe she could have just slid into his place, substituting her bum for his, once again. But then he would have missed out on his required procedure and would have needed to impersonate someone else’s backside on the gurney.
So you can see how this sort of fraudulent activity just gets more and more complicated and the poor GP is caught up in the circle of deception, not wanting to get her patients into even more trouble.
It would be interesting to know if the government would have prosecuted for defecation fraud. I wonder what sort of sentence one could expect to receive if convicted? Perhaps the defence would have argued that the occurrence of such irregularities in the program should just be accepted as “leakage”.