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Health professionals warned over hoax caller

24 October, 2000

An article in The Lancet has warned doctors, neurologists and accident and emergency unit staff about a patient who is making hoax telephone calls to hospitals across the UK.

In the majority of the calls, he claims to be a doctor seeking advice in respect of a patient in status epilepticus. On a number of occasions, he has been able to obtain the names of current in-patients with epilepsy and then telephone the hospital's neurology registrar claiming to be a house officer and has attempted to discuss the patient's cases. In other calls, he has posed as an A&E physician and has arranged for in-patient beds to be prepared for these non-existent cases.

The man has admitted responsibility for the calls, which have been made to nearly every major hospital in the country, after having a tape of one of the conversations played to him by his psychiatrist. He has been warned that his identity will be revealed to the police should he make any more hoax calls.

The article, by four neurologists, reiterates that medical professionals should be aware that they may be the targets of hoax telephone calls and that they should consider ringing back any suspect caller.