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Man accused of impersonating Harvard-trained doctor at San Diego hospital

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 1/14/2018 Kristina Davis
a large white building: Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa. © Eduardo Contreras Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.

A man who claimed he was an anesthesiologist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital and a graduate of Harvard Medical School was arrested Thursday on an impersonation charge after he was found in the hospital’s doctors lounge, according to police and hospital officials.

When hospital security approached Zaid Bassam Jeorge, 27, in the lounge, he was dressed in blue scrubs and a white physician’s coat bearing the Sharp logo and the name “Zaid Jorge, MD Anesthesiologist,” according to a hospital security alert obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune. He also had with him a stethoscope, a cellphone with Arabic messages on the screen and a set of keys to a rental Mercedes-Benz.

He could not provide any credentials, and he explained that he was a student in Sweden here as part of an apprenticeship, according to the hospital memo. When asked if he had a sponsor, he gave the name of a doctor at the hospital. But the doctor denied it, saying Jeorge “seemed to have latched onto him a few weeks ago” after he accepted a connection request from Jeorge on LinkedIn, the memo states.

No other doctors seemed to know Jeorge either.

His LinkedIn profile said he was a graduate of Harvard and had been a physician at Sharp for more than a year. The profile also included photos of Jeorge appearing to work at a computer in an unknown Sharp facility. Other photos found online show him in a Sharp doctor’s coat standing outside the hospital.

The summary of his Instagram account, set to private, also makes similar claims.

La Mesa police responded and searched Jeorge’s rental car, which had been parked across the street in the Grossmont Center mall. Inside they found two passports and an El Cajon address.

Jeorge was arrested on suspicion of false impersonation and attempting to practice without a license, according to jail records.

A psychiatric evaluation determined that he did not meet the threshold for hospitalization. San Diego’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was also notified.

La Mesa Police Lt. Greg Runge said Saturday that his department is working with hospital investigators on the case but declined to release further details.

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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