SCFHS has finally used digital photos to prevent cases of impersonation in practitioners' examinations. "It is critical to make sure that all practitioners are competent, and thus a test is delivered by an international company. We believe that the digital photo procedure is of utmost importance to make sure that no one can do the test on behalf of someone else", SCFHS Spokesman Abdullah Al-Zahyan told Al-Haya.
Al-Zahyan denied that the mentioned procedure has anything to do with the rising numbers of medical errors. "I do not think that there is any relation between this procedure and the rising numbers of medical errors, unless the applicant is qualified and the practitioner is not", he explained.
"However, this procedure is one of the criteria to evaluate the ability and competence of practitioners", he added. Al-Zahyan also confirmed that cases of impersonation have been caught in SCFHS' examinations. "Attempts to impersonate applicants have been caught in medical specialty tests; however, they were very few. The photo procedure will deter those who think of impersonation and make them think twice before committing such action", he said.
Although the spokesman did not indicate the number of digital photography devices currently deployed, he said that the number is sufficient and that it could be increased if needed.
He pointed out that the largest testing center is now open in SCFHS HQ, Riyadh.
Al-Zahyan ruled out taking additional measures to control professional classification tests. "SCFHS has updated the Professional Classification Committee's controls aimed at preventing cheating and impersonation cases, in addition to the newly adopted digital photography procedure".
"The new regulations were adopted by the SCFHS Professional Classification Committee in its first ordinary meeting regarding cheating and impersonation cases in the tests held by SCFHS at its HQ or affiliates."
He said the controls fell under five items: "If a non-Saudi is caught cheating, he/she is denied the test and his/her name is listed on the banned practitioners list. If a Saudi citizen is caught cheating, he/she is denied the test for one year and required to pass a nine-month training course at a recognized hospital." The relevant items include penalties in case a Saudi citizen is caught cheating for the second time, represented in being permanently denied the test and considered unqualified to work in the health field.
The new controls require cases of impersonation to be reported to the competent authorities in order to take the appropriate measures.
Al-Zahyan said that the measures taken by SCFHS were effective, especially as they work as a deterrent for all applicants; however, "there is no reason for not applying better methods when available", he added. He also noted that SCFHS' experience was the first of its kind in the Middle East and encouraged other countries in the region to follow suit.
"Some GCC countries are now attempting to do the same thing, namely: UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. If it was not such a successful endeavor, those sister states would not have followed in our footsteps", he said.