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Woman Caught Impersonating Doctor at Boston Hospitals

The woman observed surgeries and breached several areas of one hospital.

A woman was escorted off the property of three Boston hospitals after impersonating a doctor for several days in December.

Cheryl Wang reportedly observed operations, attended patient rounds and transported a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital before officials realized she was not an authorized visitor.

After uncovering the security breach, the hospital posted her photograph near operating rooms and informed its sister hospitals around the city, according to the Boston Globe.

The following day, Wang entered a conference room at Massachusetts General Hospital and was escorted off the property. Authorities then followed Wang to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she was denied entry.

The incident, which included Wang entering at least five operating rooms at Brigham’s, represented a major lapse in hospital security. Wang claimed she was a doctor in training.

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital uses electronic card readers to restrict access to surgery suites, but Wang was able to bypass those systems by tailgating other employees if groups were travelling together or during shift changes. The hospital plans to hold additional training for staff members on the dangers of tailgating.

Hospital staff members already receive annual safety training, which includes personal safety and threat assessment training.

After the breaches, Brigham officials also said they made changes to the hospital’s visitor policy in operating rooms so that physicians sponsoring a visitor are required to verify the person’s standing with a student’s college or university.

The hospital’s subsequent investigation included a review of Wang’s activities through video surveillance footage and information on Wang’s past.

Wang was dismissed from a surgical residency program at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City last year. She had also been reported to the state’s disciplinary board.

After her dismissal, Wang applied for a transfer from Mount Sinai to a Brigham residency program by completing an application through the National Resident Matching Program.

Wang reportedly forged three recommendation letters in order to gain permission to shadow a Brigham surgeon in September while her application was pending. Wang then returned on December 5 in the scrubs she received during that visit. The scrubs featured the hospital logo.

Wang observed surgeries while standing on a stool on Dec. 5 and 6, as is customary. She also attended patient rounds in thoracic surgery until a doctor confronted her on Dec. 7 and she was escorted off the property.

Brigham’s officials sent an email to all operating staff and notified Children’s Hospital and Mass General Hospital.

Mount Sinai officials say Wang was accepted into their residency program after passing a background check but got into a verbal altercation with a colleague and was dismissed.

Part of the reason no charges have been brought against Wang is that investigators “did not find anything in her background that would cause us to be extraordinarily concerned,” said Bonnie Michelman, executive director of security at Mass. General.

Read Next: Access Control Q&A with S2 Security’s John Moss

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