Most cases of negligence, including acts and omissions, by doctors are dealt with in civil court as medical malpractice lawsuits. Plaintiffs have to show that the doctor failed in obligation to comply with their duty of reasonable care for their patient and that failure caused harm that is compensable.
If a doctor has made an egregious error that has seriously and permanently injured or even killed a loved one, people often believe they should be held criminally liable. Criminal cases against doctors for harm or death caused to a patient are rare, but they occur. They’re not so much extreme cases of medical malpractice as criminal actions that occur in a medical setting.
Examples of crimes against patients
These sometimes involve some form of criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter charge. For example, if a doctor had no intention of killing a patient, but they acted recklessly and without any regard to a patient’s safety, they could face that type of criminal charge.
In one case, a doctor faced “depraved indifference” murder charges after prescribing large doses of opioids to anyone who sought him out – even when they showed signs of addiction and family members pleaded with the doctor not to prescribe them the meds. He was charged in the opioid-related deaths of five people. He’s not the only doctor to face criminal charges for overdose deaths.
Other doctors have faced sexual assault and similar charges for their actions with patients during the course of examination and treatment. Too often, these doctors are able to continue with this behavior for too long against multiple patients (usually women) whom they manage to convince that what they’re doing is part of an examination or treatment.
If you or a loved one has been harmed or worse by a doctor, the wisest thing to do is seek legal guidance. That’s the best way to determine whether you have a medical malpractice suit or there’s criminal activity involved and how to move forward to seek justice.