Federal officials say they have arrested a man who intentionally, repeatedly hurt himself in a scheme to obtain painkillers at hospitals across the United States.
The man—who went by so many aliases during the scheme that police have to refer to him as "John Doe"—on July 17 visited the Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, Maine, to be treated for an injury, hospitals officials say. The man was given pain medication for the treatment, but he became "volatile and difficult to handle" when staff tried to further examine him. The hospital subsequently called the Fort Kent Police Department.
From our blog: The states with the most opioid painkiller users
After being taken into custody, the man hurt himself by inserting a foreign object into his body, according to Tom Pelletier, Fort Kent's chief of police. He was admitted to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for surgery stemming from that self-inflicted injury. Meanwhile, Pelletier conducted a background check and found the man was wanted by the United States Postal Inspection Service. John Doe was arrested as soon as he was released.
"It is alleged he has been going around the country to different hospitals trying to get into the [ED] to get medications…It looks like he has been doing this for a while," says Donna Harris, public information officer for the Postal Inspection Service.
John Doe allegedly visited more than 400 hospitals, using "at least 10 different aliases" and numerous false billing addresses—which is how the postal service got involved about a year ago, Harris says. During that time, Doe received countless X-rays and surgeries "to remove an obstruction or foreign object from his body [he] intentionally placed there, just to get medical attention and resulting narcotics," Harris says.
Doctors: Here's how to reduce painkiller abuse
The man will now have to be tried in several states where arrest warrants have been issued—some dating as far back as April 2011 (Bayly, Bangor Daily News, 7/22).
Next in the Daily Briefing
It takes a village: How facilities can promote team-based care