(HARRISBURG) – Legislation to increase penalties for impersonating a physician in Pennsylvania was unanimously passed by the General Assembly and has been signed by the Governor, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).
Scarnati, prime sponsor of the bill, explained that Act 10 of 2015 increases the criminal grading for a person who impersonates a doctor of medicine and provides medical treatment, from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
“Impersonating a physician can have dire consequences for individuals who unknowingly place their healthcare in the hands of someone who is not properly trained,” Scarnati said. “I am very pleased that this bi-partisan legislation will help to protect those seeking medical advice and treatment.”
Scarnati noted that prior to this legislation being signed into law, impersonating a physician was treated the same as impersonating a notary public or other licensed professional under Pennsylvania law.
This legislation is based largely on a recommendation made by the Philadelphia Grand Jury which investigated and ultimately indicted Dr. Kermit Gosnell and other employees at his “House of Horrors” abortion clinic. Although Gosnell was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for murder, several of his employees, who were practicing medicine without a proper license, received lenient sentences for their crimes.
“I commend my colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives for advancing this protection measure,” Scarnati stated. “In 2011, a Philadelphia Grand Jury brought to light instances of physician impersonation while investigating the Abortion Clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. My hope is that with making these changes, we will decrease the likelihood that these crimes will recur.”
Act 10 was signed into law on June 26th, 2015 and shall take effect in 60 days.