Doctors And The Law – How Can A Criminal Conviction Affect The Practice Of Medicine?

January 10, 2013 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Obviously, a criminal conviction affects anyone in multiple ways, loss of freedom, money, and civic status.  For health care providers, a criminal conviction, including some misdemeanors, can also significantly impact the ability to practice medicine.

In most states, New York included, a criminal conviction constitutes “professional misconduct” and can result in suspension, restriction or revocation of a medical license. 

Although medical practice statutes vary from state to state, nearly every state includes a felony conviction as “unprofessional conduct” that can result in professional discipline.  In Colorado, for example, a conviction of any felony, an offense of moral turpitude, or a crime that would constitute a violation of the Colorado Medical Practice Act is a disciplinary offense.  A conviction includes pleas of guilty, nolo contendere or no contest.

In contrast,  New York, the standard is much broader, and includes any conviction of an act constituting a crime under New York state law, federal law, or another state, if the act would also be a crime under New York law.  doctors criminal conviction

One thing most physicians do not realize is that a criminal conviction unrelated to the practice of medicine can result in license restrictions or loss.  For example, in many states, tax evasion is considered to be a “crime of moral turpitude.”  Thus, a doctor who is convicted of failing to pay personal income taxes can lose their medical license based solely on the conviction.   I many circumstances, convictions for offenses such as driving while intoxicated do not result in disciplinary actions, but the conviction must be timely reported to the state medical board.

Even if a conviction does not result in the loss of medical licensure, a criminal conviction can result in loss of employment.  Many contracts between physicians and hospitals or practice groups state that any criminal conviction constitutes grounds for termination of the contract, and thus the physician’s employment.  Similar provisions may also exist in medical staff by-laws and codes of conduct.

Criminal Convictions and Federal Programs

On the federal level, a conviction of some crimes will result in a health care provider’s exclusion from all Federal health care programs, including Medicaid and Medicare.  This applies with equal force to all health care providers, including those that do not provide direct care, such as instrument technicians, business office and collections personnel, and in one case, a chaplain. The crimes for which exclusion is required are those that CMS determines are “detrimental to the best interests of the program and its beneficiaries.”  In addition to insurance and health care fraud, the Code of Federal Regulations lists felony crimes against persons, such as murder, rape and assault, and financial crimes such as extortion, embezzlement, and income tax evasion as crimes for which exclusion is the remedy.   Crimes such as criminal neglect or misconduct resulting from patient care are also included, as are crimes not listed such as drug use and narcotic diversion.  Like most states, guilty plea or pre-trial diversion counts as a conviction.

Criminal charges are serious matters for everyone and especially health care providers.  Doctors, nurses and others facing criminal issues should consult with an experienced attorney to determine the potential career-altering impact of a conviction or plea.

Contact Us Now

If you are have lost your professional medical license due to a criminal conviction make sure to contact The Rosenblum Law Firm today. For free consult call 973-594-6552.

 

Author Bio 

Steven Kabler represents physicians and other health care providers in disciplinary, licensing, and peer review matters, as well as employment and other litigation.  Steve is a shareholder in the Denver, Colorado firm of Jones & Keller, P.C., and is licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado.  For more information, visit Steve’s website www.coloradohealthcarelaw.com or visit www.joneskeller.com.