With the deepening recession an increasing number of desperate people have turned to crime to get by. And I guess desperation comes in many forms. Take for instance Yvonne Jean Pampellonne, 30, of Huntington Beach, California who faces charges on May 27 for allegedly stealing the identity of another woman and using that identity to obtain $12,000 worth of cosmetic surgery.
So writing this blog brings forth a lot of emotion but in the end my hope is to create awareness in the medical community that crime can happen to any of us. Shortly before Christmas 2008 I saw a patient for a breast augmentation consultation. She was a young, healthy 23 year old women and an appropriate candidate for the surgery. A silicone breast augmentation was performed. Approximately a month later we received a letter from the credit card company disputing the charges. This is when we determined that the credit card she had used was not her own. I must admit I was shocked and confused! Who was the woman disputing the charge and how was she related to the patient!? The police were notified. At first we considered all of the options still thinking that we weren’t really victimized by a patient. But when she didn’t return for her post operative visit it became very clear she had skipped, enhanced and happy. In March Bashinka Thompson was arrested and we learned of her extensive criminal history.
Being a small business owner you have to learn a lot on your own. And even though you think all of the bases are cover you can still get taken. As physicians there we have a responsibility to our patients to provide the best care. And in return we expect patients to respect us by being honest, trustworthy and appreciative of our commitment. In a recession any business loss is painful but what is more difficult for me is the economical loss to the hospital and the hard working anesthesiologists.
I will get to face my patient in court next week along with numerous other individuals she has victimized. Although this may create closure for this incidence it has left me wondering how far we have to go in medicine to protect ourselves.
Christopher L. Hess, M.D., F.A.C.S.