Fake doctor may have treated thousands of patients in Southern Finland
Marjatta Nio standing outside the Nummela Health Centre is seemingly shocked. “Our doctor. My goodness, it is our doctor!”
Nio has just learned the name of Esa Antero Laiho, 49, the fake physician, who has made headlines in Finland in the past couple of days. Laiho has been in charge of treating Nio’s husband, a long-term ward patient at the Nummela Health Centre in Vihti.
Laiho still worked at the centre on Tuesday, even though the fake doctor suspicions had been made public that morning.
At that time the rest of the staff were still unaware that Laiho was the subject of the suspicions. He was supposed to arrive at work also yesterday morning, but he no longer showed up.
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) made Laiho’s name public on Wednesday for patient safety reasons.
In the course of several years, Laiho is believed to have treated perhaps thousands of patients in many different communities in Southern Finland.
“Lord have mercy! What I primarily remember of him is that he was too busy to talk to me when I would have wanted to discuss my husband’s treatment”, Marjatta Nio says at the Nummela Health Centre.
With Nio is Anneli Aho, who has come to visit her husband, who was also a patient of Laiho.
“I have to say that now I am really scared”, Aho says before entering the long-term ward to see her husband.
Vihti belongs to the Karviainen joint municipal authority for primary health care and social services in Western Uusimaa, which has purchased medical services from Suomen Geriatriakeskus, a company set up by Laiho in 2008.
Working for his own company Laiho was employed on a locum basis in the geriatric services at least in Helsinki, Lahti, Kouvola, Vihti, and Karkkila, says Markus Henriksson from Valvira.
On its website Laiho’s company boasted that it has been responsible for the treatment of around 5,000 patients.
In Helsinki, doctors employed by Laiho’s company worked with the Kustaankartano Centre for the Elderly in Oulunkylä in Helsinki, the rehabilitation services for the elderly in Kuntokartano, plus the care of the elderly units at Roihuvuori, Kontula, Myllypuro, and Koskela.
According to Paavo Voutilainen, Director of the Social Services department of the City of Helsinki, it is unclear how much work Laiho himself did as a medical doctor in Helsinki. “It is certain, however, that he did do hands-on work as a physician at several of our units.”
A woman, who contacted Helsingin Sanomat, explains that Laiho was her mother’s doctor last summer in Helsinki. According to the woman, Laiho sent her mother, who was in poor health, home too soon.
“Three days after having been sent home my mother died.”
The woman has asked Valvira to investigate if Laiho committed malpractice.
Before 2008 Laiho was employed for about four years by the geriatric services company Geriatriapalvelu Johannes. Back then he worked on a locum basis as a doctor at various homes for the elderly in Helsinki. Laiho was also a part owner of the company.
In 2003 he also worked at the Helsinki-based Maria Hospital for a short while.
“So far it has not emerged that he would be suspected of any serious medical errors”, Henriksson says.
Valvira has been in touch with the chief physicians, under whose supervision Laiho has been employed as a locum. Suspicions of some improper treatments by him have come to light.
“On the other hand, one chief physician highly praised Laiho’s conduct”, Henriksson points out.
Valvira proposes that the Ministry of Social Services and Health Board for the Supervision of Health Care Professionals remove temporarily Laiho’s licence to practice medicine.
Minister and Finnish Medical Association amazed at success of ruse (11.1.2010)
Impersonating a doctor - a losing game (19.1.2010)
Phony doctor hurts credibility of Karkkila health services (11.1.2010)