Criminal Negligence

While state licensing boards and the state and federal judicial systems have sufficient processes in place to adjudicate violations of the standard of care, medical negligence can lead to criminal charges in certain circumstances. We all remember the prosecution of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, for administering Propofol. More recently, we all remember Dr. Farid Fata, the Michigan Oncologist who made millions performing unnecessary procedures. While these may seem like outliers, the prosecution of physicians for criminally negligent conduct is a frequent occurrence.

When Does a Physicians Conduct Rise to the Level of Criminal Negligence?

The difficulty is in determining when a departure from the standard of care turns into a crime. Generally, a physician or other health care professional must act in a way that is grossly negligent, and must be aware of the substantial risk to the patient. Criminal negligence requires a more serious deviation from the standard of care than ordinary civil negligence. However, unlike civil negligence “a prosecutor need not establish a deviation from the standard of care and causation to win a criminal conviction.” James A. Filkins, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Criminalization of Medical Negligence, Legal Medicine 7th ed. (2007). This means that while the standard to sustain criminal charges against a health professional is high, the procedural burdens are lower for the prosecution.

Physicians and health care professionals risk criminal negligence charges for:

  • exceeding their scope of practice
  • disregarding license restrictions
  • failing to limit the harm they caused
  • disregarding past experience and continually causing harm for the same conduct
  • overdoses related to the prescription of narcotics to patients without medical necessity

When charged or facing an investigation related to criminal negligence, as a health care provider, you need an attorney experienced not only in criminal law, but medicine, and the defense of health care professionals. Moreover, charges for criminal negligence will lead to a significant number of collateral consequences such as credentialing, DEA, NPDB, and state licensing issues. Here at Chapman Law Group, we only represent licensed health care providers, and have a team of attorneys skilled in criminal law and medical malpractice ready to fight for you.

We handle the criminal defense of licensed health professionals statewide in Michigan including Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Sterling Heights, Grand Rapids, Flint, Bay City and Traverse City. We are also in Miami and Sarasota Florida and represent clients throughout Florida in Tampa, Tallahassee, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Jacksonville.

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