by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Andrew can possibly face hefty fines and prison term under Health Practitioners Act
- Denied bail and remanded to Richmond Hill Prison until 28 January.
- Public to request a medical practitioner’s credentials before undergoing treatment
19-year-old Akim Andrew will face a hefty fine of $100,000 and a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years for impersonating a doctor, and “Practicing Medicine without being Registered.”
If proven guilty of prescribing medication Andrew can possibly face an additional maximum fine of $100,000 and a prison term of 3 years in accordance with Section 113 of the Health Practitioners Act 2010.
Section 113 of the act states that “A person shall not prescribe any drug in relation to a medical condition or complaint unless he or she is registered as a health practitioner pursuant to the provisions of this act and is authorised by virtue of the regulations made pursuant to section 119. It goes on further to say that “A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to both.”
Former Chairman of the Allied Health Professional Council, Derick Sylvester, called attention to these two penal sections when interviewed on the matter on Thursday, 24 January 2020. Sylvester said the incident is quite unfortunate but indicated that this is an opportunity for the public to be more vigilant and to request to see a medical practitioner’s credentials before undergoing treatment. “The law requires that every medical practitioner must have their certificate posted in a prominent place so that is something that every person should look for when they go to visit a doctor or any health professional, and this is what the law says in Section 45, which states that the holder of a practicing certificate shall display the practicing certificate in a prominent place in an area where he or she conducts his or her practice.”
Andrew was denied bail when he appeared before Chief Magistrate, Teddy St Louis, at the St George’s Magistrate’s No. 1 Court on Tuesday and was remanded to Richmond Hill Prison until 28 January.
The Allied Health Professionals Council is responsible for vetting applicants before issuing licences to practice in the state of Grenada. In 2018, a call was made by the council’s chairman Dr Nicole Forte, for all Allied Health Professionals in Grenada to become registered as required under the Health Practitioners Act 2010. It is also standard practice for the names of licenced medical professional to be listed in the Gazette.
Sylvester stated the law cannot prevent someone from impersonating a medical professional or to establish an office to offer medical services, however, it is up to the Allied Health Professionals Council to ensure that all health professionals are certified and registered to practice and that the public ensures that they are provided with proof of that certification.
“I wouldn’t say there are loopholes within the system because you cannot stop anyone from just opening an office and say I am a doctor. So there are some things that you cannot do, so you cannot stop someone from doing that but the prospective patient has a duty to ensure that the doctor you are going before, is he someone that someone referred you to, or is it a case where you just walk in and see a sign and you decide to walk into the office? Then if that is the case you should look and ensure that person is qualified and by examining the certificate of that person,” Sylvester said.
A number of health professionals fall under the category of Allied Health including: Acupuncturist, Audiologist, Chiropodist, Chiropractor, Dental Hygienist, Dental Technician, Dental Therapist, Dietitian, Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Herbalist, Homeopath, Imaging Technologist, Masseur, Medical Technologist, Naturopathist, Optician, Occupational Therapist, Podiatrist, Psychotherapist and Psychologist, among others.
Jerry Edwin, legal representative of Akim Andrew, stated that he is prepared to mount a vigorous defence on the behalf of his client whose ambition did not match his educational credentials. He indicated that the incident that led to his client’s arrest is violating the public trust by misleading innocent people at worst, and is no more egregious than other similar situations being perpetuated in Grenadian society where a public official was found to be holding a fake doctorate or a practitioner of naturopathic medicine having a televised programme without having the necessary qualifications.
Edwin refutes the claim that his client prescribed controlled substances or prescriptions, but admitted that his client’s situation is quite sad and one which requires him to be rehabilitated.
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