Officials with the McGill University Health Centre are examining security precautions after a woman posing as a physician approached patients at two Montreal hospitals.

On Monday, surveillance cameras caught a woman, her hair hidden by a scarf, roaming the halls at Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals. She is seen wearing a stethoscope around her neck and carrying a pile of file folders.

Health centre spokeswoman Anne Lynch said the woman approached two patients before staff confronted her.  

"The staff in the area started to question the individual and realized that individual was not a member of the team," Lynch said.  

However, by the time police were called the woman was gone.

A well-known patients' rights advocate in Quebec said he had never heard of such a thing happening — outside of a Hollywood film script. "How many chances do we have to be confronted by a wacko pretending to be a doctor?" Paul Brunet told CBC News. 


McGill University Health Centre spokeswoman Ann Lynch says hospital security is being examined after a woman posing as a doctor approached patients at two hospitals run by the centre. ((Graham Hughes/Canadian Press))

Lynch would neither confirm nor deny a report the woman attempted to diagnose a heart patient and then told him he had brain cancer. But Lynch did say she had never heard of such a thing happening before in any of McGill's university hospitals.

Staff members are required to wear badges, Lynch said, and patients are well within their rights to ask to see them.

However, Brunet said, a hospital emergency room is a tough place to secure.

"[The] more or less four million people admitted in emergencies in the whole province should not be worried because of paranoiac restrictions in terms of security," he said, "but let's make sure any given medical staff has his badge to work in these acute-care premises."

McGill said it is working with the police and Quebec's medical college to see what can be done to prevent a recurrence.

Organizations that represent doctors in Quebec and nationally say they've never heard of an incident quite like this one.    

With files from the CBC's Justin Hayward and Catherine Cullen