updated 11/24/2010 2:57:36 PM ET 2010-11-24T19:57:36

A North Carolina man faced criminal charges after police say he posed as a health professional and got involved with patients at a hospital emergency room.

Daniel Ray Stewart, 24, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of impersonating a doctor, multiple media organizations reported Wednesday.

Stewart posed as a visiting medical resident seeking training and camped out in the emergency room of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Stewart said he was at it for two weeks in October before a physician assistant noticed he was not wearing a badge in the emergency department.

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"There was no direct patient care involved," Stewart said. "If something was wrong, (the hospital) should've let me know ... instead of going to the police."

The hospital said Stewart was shadowing doctors and nurses and was never alone with a patient. Stewart is "a troubled young man with a history of impersonation, or similar activity," hospital spokesman Vince Benbenek said in a statement.

Stewart said he has a medical degree from the University of Tennessee, but the school has no record of him being enrolled, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

"My job is to observe and be a helping hand if needed and to further medical assessment," Stewart told WTVD-TV.

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Stewart's uncle, John Smith, said he drove Stewart to the hospital about a month ago and waited in the car while Stewart went inside to ask about a job. When Stewart returned, he was wearing scrubs, Smith said.

"He said, 'They hired me. They want me to start today,'" Smith said.

Police spokesman Lt. Chris Davis declined to discuss the case.

The hospital has launched an internal investigation to determine how many patients Stewart may have come in contact with.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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