Man accused of practicing medicine with someone else's license worked at DMH facility

Published: Mar. 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM EST
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Ernest Addo (Source: Cobb County Detention Center)
Ernest Addo (Source: Cobb County Detention Center)

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Georgia man accused of unlawfully practicing medicine at five senior care facilities in Lexington and Richland Counties and a Department of Mental Health facility in Columbia is sitting in a Georgia jail.

Lexington County Sheriff's Department detectives obtained an arrest warrant for 48-year-old Ernest Osei Addo of Austell, GA. The charges claim Addo unlawfully practiced medicine between February 15 and August 22 at five facilities in Lexington and Richland counties.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health on Monday said Addo worked for several months in a DMH inpatient facility in Columbia. The individual was not an employee of the Department, but rather was employed by a private company with which DMH contracted for temporary physician services.

DMH representatives said Addo worked in the facility from September 2, 2011 to January 10, 2012. There were no clinical problems that were noted by his supervisor or other clinical staff during the time that the individual was working there.

Members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force arrested Addo Friday afternoon at his home in Georgia. Addo is held at the Cobb County Detention Center in Marietta, GA while awaiting extradition to Lexington County.

Major John Allard with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said Addo did not waive extradition at a hearing Saturday, and remains held in Cobb County.

A date has not been set for a formal extradition hearing.

Sheriff's detectives drove to Marietta, GA. Friday night to interview Addo and eventually return him to Lexington County. Allard said Addo refused to talk to investigators without his attorney present.

Court documents say Addo unlawfully practiced medicine at five facilities operated by Agape Senior while Addo was employed as a physician with Agape Primary Care.  Addo provided medical services to as many as 500 patients at five facilities: Agape Senior and Agape Rehab in West Columbia, Agape Senior Kathwood, Agape Senior Harbison, and Agape Senior Lexington.

Sheriff James Metts said Addo presented copies of documents to Agape Senior claiming to be an Orangeburg man who is licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina. After he presented the documents, Agape Senior hired Addo.

He quit Wednesday.

Sheriff Metts said Addo is a personal friend of the Orangeburg man whose documents Addo presented to Agape Senior.

The Sheriff's Department began investigating Addo Wednesday after the Orangeburg man reported that he was the victim of identity theft and identified Addo as the man who assumed his identity.  The victim told investigators Addo unlawfully practiced medicine in his name and unlawfully obtained and used credit cards that were issued in the man's name.

Sheriff Metts said detectives might file additional charges against Addo in connection with unlawfully prescribing medication and unlawfully receiving wages.

Agape Senior Primary Care released a statement regarding the allegations.  Sheriff's deputies say Agape is cooperating with their investigation.

"This individual came highly recommended from his previous employer where he practiced as a physician," read the statement.  "Further, he provided Agape with all necessary information to practice as a physician and pass through third party credentialing."

"As an integrated health provider committed to the health and well-being of its patients and its position in the communities it serves, Agape is shocked that someone would perpetuate such a fraud upon it and its patients. Agape has taken immediate steps to protect its patients and ensure all care was appropriate relative to this matter."

A news release from the DMH noted it was taking several actions in light of this arrest. It said medical directors of facilities would do patient record reviews to look for concerns related to Addo's actions. To date, none have been found. The department is also reviewing its pre-placement procedures to determine if additional measures are needed to guard against future incidents.

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