A star COVID doctor who worked on the frontline has turned out to be a fraud as she’s being accused of lying about working 12-hour hospital shifts and caring for children suffering long-term COVID.
Earlier, Ron Elfenbein, a prominent COVID doctor from Maryland, was accused of a $1.5 million healthcare fraud which states he overbilled for COVID-19 tests.
Now, a well-paid New York City school pediatrician has been accused of lying about treating COVID-infected children on the front lines of hospitals.
Dr. Risa Hoshino was featured on many top physician influencer lists, and the Scientist magazine called her a “veteran of using social media to debunk scientific falsehoods.”
However, in a probe by Substack blogger Sarah Beth Burwick, she has been accused of lying about working 12-hour hospital shifts and caring for children suffering long-COVID.
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Hoshino posted on Twitter about working long shifts in full PPE while treating children with long COVID and administering injections.
Burwick, on the other hand, has called her out, claiming that Hoshino’s job entails no such activity. She also pointed up social media photos of the doctor having a good time, which contradicted Hoshino’s assertions of long shifts.
Hoshino was discovered to be a city-employed school pediatrician who largely worked a remote job for roughly $170,000 a year throughout the pandemic but according to her LinkedIn profile she works for Mount Sinai.
She did, however, complete her residency at the hospital network in 2017, and has since worked 9-5 hours as a school pediatrician.
Since the allegations initially appeared, her strong 113,000 followers – which she built up in a year and a half – have dropped to 32,200.
All of the doctor’s accounts have been locked or deleted as of now.
She would ask for money on a Ko-Fi account despite her high salary.
Hoshino joined the ranks of the other #tweetiatricians, who are young, attractive, and have a knack for catchy taglines and hashtags, like many other physicians who gained fame during the pandemic by readily answering their followers’ questions, flaunting prestigious degrees, and dubbing themselves ‘vaccine experts.’
Burwick said that she began creating her social media presence on Instagram at the outset of the pandemic before transferring to Twitter once the tweets began to gain traction.
Hoshino spent most of her time on Twitter recounting her difficult life on the front lines.
She told heartbreaking stories about children who were suffering from long-term COVID side effects, such as a straight-A student who was having difficulties concentrating or an immunocompromised child who was doing ‘poorly.’
She even went so far as to claim that 25% of her pediatric patients will have long-COVID.
In a March 2022 tweet, she wrote, “Trying telling a child that you have no idea when they’ll be normal again and to see them tear up. They could potentially suffer the rest of their lives .”
Many parents promised to vaccinate their children and wear masks as a result of her tweets, according to Burwick.
She, like many other healthcare workers, expressed her dissatisfaction with being overworked and mistreated, as well as dealing with anti-vaxxers.
“I believed this in residency and believe it even more now: the hospital admin does not give a f%€% about us. We are expendable. ” There is no proof that Hoshino was employed in a hospital at the time.
“Not sure how someone can tell me to my face that “covid is over” as I stand there in my scrubs, N95, [and] face-shield, exhausted from treating all the covid + patients who are either severely ill or have long covid,” she wrote on March 24. “Unless you’re us, you’ll truly never get it.”
“Sometimes I walk home in my scrubs [and] N95 [and] stare at the bars full of unmasked people yelling, laughing, with spit flying, no vaxx status checked, [and] no testing required,” she wrote the next day. “The utter contrast of my life with theirs seems so surreal. When will my time be to ‘live my life?'”
Unlike her Twitter account, however, her Instagram was said to be full of dinner dates with friends, glamorous home offices, and bikini shots.
Her page also allegedly indicated that, like most New Yorkers, she worked from home throughout 2020. Her Instagram account has been deactivated since then.
Her lack of hospital affiliations and workplace location should have raised red flags for her followers if her Instagram didn’t already. Mount Sinai is mentioned on popular websites like Vitals.com and WedMD as being her office location, however she is not listed on the hospital’s physicians page.
Another website, ehealthgrades, listed her business location as Kew Gardens, but Burwick said the phone number associated with the single-family home on the property presumably belongs to a relative.
Her 10-digit National Provider Identifier number hasn’t been updated since medical school, therefore she’s still listed as a student in the database.
Despite only graduating from NYU Medical School in 2014, the doctor claimed to have 15 years of experience. She’s been a City Medical Specialist with the NYC Department of Health since completing residency three years later, according to documents.
Hoshino’s anonymous coworker told Burwick that school pediatricians don’t generally wear N95 masks or scrubs for 12 hours, but instead focus on public health education and serve as a liaison with other doctors to ensure that students’ needs are met.
According to Burwick, Hoshino’s ‘vaccine expert’ status was allegedly based on her attendance at the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), although there is no record of medical research or publications referring to her study on the subject.
She did, however, post a photo of herself hugging her grandmother on the Pfizer Careers Twitter page, but it is unclear what her relationship with the pharmaceutical business is.
Moreover, despite not having a hospital affiliation or proof she had been treating patients inside medical facilities, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia invited Hoshino to a virtual event with pediatric vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit in December 2021 to discuss her experience with a rare inflammatory side effect of COVID-19.
According to Burwick, MedPage has also published a number of papers by Hoshino and Edward Nirenberg, another COVID-19 influencer. They even collaborated on a BMJ opinion piece with three other doctors, all of whom had worked in hospitals.
Despite the vagueness of her position, she did state she wasn’t a ‘pharma shill’ in an Instagram story.
“I literally make zero money from my science advocacy. I just care and that’s why I’m here,” she wrote. She also reminded her followers that instead of having a ‘second job,’ she was ‘losing’ money doing her ‘volunteer’ work.
The doctor, on the other hand, profited from her social media because anyone who purchased from Amazon through associated links gave her a commission. She also marketed GoodRx, though it’s unclear whether she profited from it. She failed to report any financial gains or conflicts of interest, despite FTC regulations and New York City government-based job rules.