HARRISBURG – In order to protect Pennsylvania citizens from unscrupulous individuals posing as physicians, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) has introduced legislation approved by the state House to increase penalties for those who impersonate a doctor and treat patients.
Specifically, House Bill 609
increases the grading for a person who impersonates a doctor of medicine and provides medical treatment, from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor, even if no actual harm comes to the patient.
“Currently, impersonation of any professional licensee, whether a notary public, cosmetologist or doctor, is graded as a second-degree misdemeanor,” said Baker. “Only if the person’s intent is to harm or defraud another is the offense increased to a first-degree misdemeanor. This needs to change. Most people go to a doctor when they are at their most vulnerable, and for someone to take advantage of such a situation is unconscionable. Stricter penalties are clearly needed to help stop this type of crime.”
Baker first introduced this legislation a couple of years ago following the findings of the Philadelphia grand jury while investigating the abortion clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. During the investigation, it was revealed that one of the employees at the clinic treated patients and wrote prescriptions, yet was not a licensed doctor. The legislation passed the House at that time, but was not considered by the Senate.
“The situation involving the Gosnell abortion clinic revealed several flaws in our health care and criminal justice system that I have been working hard to correct,” said Baker. “In 2011, I was successful in having language added to a Senate bill that was signed into law that protects women’s health by holding abortion clinics to the same licensing regulations as other surgical health care facilities. And now, I am working to strengthen this part of the law to better ensure an individual will think twice before posing as a doctor and treating a patient.”
House Bill 609 passed the House unanimously. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Matthew Baker
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman