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Identity Theft In A South African Morgue

Amazingly enough, no matter how crazy our country gets we are a darn sight better than many of our neighbours. Many people from countries around us flee to South Africa for a better life. Only problem is for the better life you sometimes have to produce a South African identity document. These can be easily bought from corrupt government officials, but why buy one if you can borrow one?

I was working in Qwaqwa. It was an amazingly poverty-stricken place with what seemed to me to be almost total joblessness. I truly don’t know how the people survived. And yet people from neighbouring Lesotho would still move there illegally. I’ve never been to Lesotho personally but if Qwaqwa was a better proposition, then I can’t even imagine how bad life in Lesotho must have been.
Anyway, one day I got to work and was confronted with a sticky problem. The police were there and they apparently needed my help. You see as it turns out, a Lesotho illegal had died a week before in our hospital. In order to qualify for admission to our hospital she needed to be South African. Luckily her sister was the proud owner of a South African identity document and had simply lent it to her, along with her name. I assume they looked similar enough that the clerk working in admissions hadn’t noticed the picture in the book wasn’t that of the patient. More likely she simply didn’t check. The problem was that the patient had been declared dead by the doctor on call that particular night. Or rather the patient’s sister and her ID had been declared dead. At that stage no one yet knew who the patient was. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

Doctor Versus Drug Seeker: Doctor Wins

My genius partner, RKM, was lately confronted by a patient seeking pain medication.  Due to a very nice system instituted by the state of SC, providers can search for their patients’ prescription histories.  Turns out this individual had received multiple narcotic prescriptions from multiple providers all over the state, and had done it using at least three separate addresses.

Ever the resourceful doc, my partner confronted this patient with the following information:

‘Sir, it appears that you have been the victim of identity theft!  Fortunately, we were able to discover that someone has used your information to obtain narcotics under false pretense!  But rest assured, we have contacted the authorities and we’ll catch the SOB who did this to you!’

He was met, I am told, by wide-eyed, open-mouthed silence.

No prescriptions were dispensed.  Though it is entirely possible the patient will be needing a big bottle of Jim Beam for his nerves, and adult diapers for irritable bowel, for the next several weeks.

Bless you, RKM, for the theatrical, perfectly passive-aggressive genius you are!


*This blog post was originally published at*

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