Mother allegedly posed as physician, faked son's cancer diagnosis

A lawyer on behalf of Monika Burgett, 39, admitted during court proceedings Aug. 9 Ms. Burgett lied about her medical background and allegedly faked her now 5-year-old son's terminal cancer diagnosis, USA Today reports.

Here are seven things to know about Wednesday's court proceedings.

1. Ms. Burgett reportedly convinced her husband, her sister and various family members she was a practicing physician. Assistant prosecutor Anne Flanagan, JD, said the family "believed [the fact] for many years," the report states.

2. Ms. Burgett's lawyer said her previous husband is a practicing physician and she "had been with him during medical school … At some point, she adopted the idea she was a physician," according to the report.

3. The lawyer on behalf of Ms. Burgett stated the defendant's child "had numerous medical problems … and needed medical care since being born premature at 25 weeks," USA Today reports. The lawyer said Ms. Burgett reportedly sought treatment at multiple health facilities in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Texas, and Tennessee before bringing him to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 2015. The reason Ms. Burgett took her son to multiple facilities was because "his medical issues were complex" and "[physicians] had made errors [in his treatments], as well," the report states.

4. Robert Shapiro, MD, director of the child abuse team at Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children's, testified Ms. Burgett "became a member of the healthcare team" for her then 3-year-old son while he underwent treatment at Cincinnati Children's for an alleged brain tumor. The treatment included the use of prescription opioids such as Oxycodone and methadone. It is unclear if Ms. Burgett was hired by the hospital to serve on her son's care team or if she acted as an unofficial advisor to the Cincinnati Children's physicians and nurses caring for her son.

5. Physicians came to believe Ms. Burgett lied about the boy's condition and reported the suspected child abuse to Hamilton County Job & Family Services in Cincinnati. The child was removed from Ms. Burgett's custody in March 2016 and placed in foster care, according to testimony revealed during the proceedings. As of June 20, the boy has been living with his father in Texas, juvenile court documents revealed.

6. Ms. Burgett amassed roughly $40,000 in donations toward her son's terminal cancer diagnosis via multiple GoFundMe pages. The company issued a statement Wednesday specifying donors will receive refunds if Ms. Burgett is found guilty of funding misuse, the Miami Herald reports.

7. Ms. Burgett is charged with counts of child abuse, felonious assault and telecommunications fraud.

More articles on hospital-physician relationships:
Northwestern medical school professor arrested on homicide charges: 6 takeaways
USC began receiving complaints about former medical school dean's behavior 5 years ago: 7 things to know
Anonymous London physician pens op-ed about 'agonizing job' to treat Charlie Gard

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