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September 19, 1977

Cousteau Diver Impersonated by Munchausen Patient

JAMA. 1977;238(12):1248. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280130030006

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To the Editor.—  To alert the medical profession, we report a most interesting patient who claimed to be a Moroccan oceanographic physicist working with Jacques Cousteau. An intellectual 48-year-old black man speaking with an impressive French accent on his way to an oceanographic symposium at Duke University, he came to the Wilmington Medical Center emergency room and was admitted with a history of calf pain and sudden onset of pleuritic chest pain, dyspnea, and hemoptysis. He gave the fantastic story of having sustained abdominal gunshot wounds in the Indochina War necessitating extensive surgery, including left nephrectomy, splenectomy, right hemicolectomy, and a 50% small-bowel resection. He gave a pertinent history of having had an acute myocardial infarction followed by coronary revascularization in Paris and postoperatively experiencing a pulmonary embolism confirmed by pulmonary angiography. He also stated he had an unresectable ventricular aneurysm.Results of physical examination were remarkable for median sternotomy,