Facing the faceless patients - the emerging challenges of identity fraud in general surgery: A case series.

Research paper by Jason J Cui, Rasika R Hendahewa

Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 21 Dec '18Published in: International Journal of Surgery Case Reports


This case series highlights the challenges faced in general surgery when encountering patients who use multiple false identities and provide unreliable histories. We present two patients both with a background of mental health disorders and previous abdominal surgeries. After extensive workup with one patient almost proceeding to surgery, it was noted that these patients have had multiple presentations under different aliases to multiple different hospitals and had given inconsistent medical and surgical histories. In such patients, history and clinical examinations are unreliable. Medical records are also not helpful given the patients' multiple aliases. Particularly in surgery, inaccurate knowledge of the patients' previous operative details can lead to significant harms. Extensive investigations are usually performed in assessing these patients, resulting in excessive radiation exposure and incurring significant costs to the health system. It is also important to recognise the potential legal repercussions and harms to the patients who have had their identities stolen. Identity fraud poses significant challenges to patient care, vigilance from clinicians and implementing strategies to reduce system error can help to limit harms to the patient and the health care system. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.