Date: 15 March 2017
Source: Herald Sun
An accused fake doctor treated at least 145 patients at a Werribee clinic for more than three years unchecked.
Health authorities are investigating Phoebe Pacheco, accused of conducting medical procedures without qualifications at Werribee Cosmetic Medicine. Her whereabouts were unknown yesterday and the clinic did not answer the phone.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has revealed questions arose about her last year, sparking a police raid for patient records in October.
The agency’s executive strategy and policy director, Chris Robertson, said it had been in contact with Ms Pacheco but he could not confirm if she was still in the country.
The Herald Sun can also reveal that the clinic — which offers a range of laser surgeries and skin treatments — was put up for sale last month for $45,000. The annual profit is claimed to be $100,000.
The clinic’s manager could not be contacted for comment. There is no suggestion the clinic had any knowledge of the alleged conduct during Ms Pacheco’s employment, from January 2013 to October last year.
Ms Pacheco faces fines of up to $30,000 for claiming to be a medical practitioner while allegedly unregistered.
The patients recorded as having been treated by Ms Pacheco are being sent letters, after an investigation of the clinic’s files.
Acting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there was no evidence of any harm to patients.
But he added: “Anyone who saw Ms Pacheco at this or any other site should see a GP as a follow-up.”
The LinkedIn profile of Phoebe Marie Rojales Pacheco reveals that she studied at Santo Tomas University in the Philippines and attended school in Hawaii. She is described as a physician’s assistant and laser therapist.
Kathryn Booth, head of medical negligence at legal firm Maurice Blackburn, said it was alarming patient safety may have been compromised.
“Cosmetic surgery has risks, no matter how small the procedure may seem. Even injectables and laser treatments can lead to complications,’’ Ms Booth said.
“Private clinics are not as regulated as our public and private hospitals, and so there are risks in attending these clinics that need to be weighed up by the patient.’’
Professional body the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia said it was a requirement of membership that all applicants provided two referees who were existing members of the college.
Werribee Cosmetic Medicine, established in December 2012, advertises a wide range of laser treatments and skin rejuvenation procedures.
The case comes after NSW police were called in to investigate a man who allegedly stole a doctor’s identity and was employed for more than a decade at four hospitals in the state.
The AHPRA has charged Shyam Acharya of Sydney, said to have posed as Dr Sarang Chitale by entering Australia on a fake passport and gaining NSW registration.