Florida Teen on Trial for Allegedly Impersonating Physician’s Assistant
(KISSIMMEE, Fla.) -- The prosecutor in the trial of a Florida man accused of masquerading as a physician's assistant told jurors Tuesday that the defendant played the part so well that he even wore scrubs and a stethoscope.
Depending on whom you believe, Matthew Scheidt, 18, was either an overzealous teen interested in medicine or a skilled con-man playing doctor. Scheidt was arrested on Sept. 2, 2011, after, police say, he posed as a physician's assistant at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, Fla.
"Matthew Scheidt had scrubs, stethoscope around his neck," prosecutor Sarah Freeman said in court Tuesday. "He even had the lingo down."
Scheidt's attorney, Jamie Kane, in asserting Scheidt's innocence, blamed hospital administrators who gave the teen a badge meant for a physician's assistant without checking his credentials.
Edith Silva, a hospital human resources employee, testified that she never verified that he was a physician's assistant "because the office was very busy."
Scheidt's attorney says he never lied or never intended to deceive anyone, and that he told those who asked that he was a student.
"Anything Matthew Scheidt did was authorized by someone who thought he was a student, not a licensed practitioner," Kane added.
The prosecution lined up a series of witnesses who said the teen intentionally played the part of a professional.
"I walked into the room and observed Mr. Scheidt, stethoscope to a patient's chest, listening to breath sounds," said Devin Mone, an emergency room physician's assistant. "And he had an IV catheter in his hand."
It all started last year when Scheidt, then 17, was employed as a clerk at a doctor's office across the street from Osceola Regional Medical Center. He told police that when he went into the medical center to get his identification, he was given incorrect credentials.
Scheidt talked openly to police about what happened after his arrest and blamed the hospital for his alleged actions.
During the interrogation, Scheidt said that at one point after the real doctor left the room, he administered a resuscitation procedure on a patient who had overdosed. He told interrogators that the doctor had asked him to perform the procedure.
"He said, 'Can you take over CPR?'" Scheidt said. "I started doing CPR for a minute, two minutes, while he went to get medications and came back in. That was it."
"I swear to God I did not do nothing. ...I felt so uncomfortable even doing that. And, you know, the only reason why I did do it was because there was nobody else in there. And I'm not going to let her die," he said.
Scheidt faces 30 years in prison for impersonating a physician's assistant, practicing medicine without a license and performing CPR on a patient who was overdosing.
The trial continues Wednesday.
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