The practice of medicine has its definition per state. California has the practice of attempting to diagnose a patient, treat medical conditions, prescribe medications or treatment, and perform surgery. A licensed medical practitioner should conduct all these activities.
The unauthorized practice of medicine comes in when a person without a medical license dispenses medical activities like advertising his/her services as a physician, presenting to the public as a doctor, surgeon, nurse, physician, or licensed person to practice medicine.
The unauthorized individual can perform treatments not to receive any compensation but can be convicted for this crime. His or her actions can also result in harm to a patient. California Criminal Lawyer Group can help you out when you're hurting because of medical malpractice or charged with unauthorized practice of medicine crime.
When Does the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine Occur?
Patients trust their doctors so much, making the laws governing medical practice without license unforgiving. Such law cases could be practiced without intent or criminal intent, such as the intention to defraud or assault the victim sexually or lapse in a once-licensed physician's credentials.
Because of the high risk of medical malpractice to the public, medicine is a tightly regulated profession. California requires that anyone wishing to practice medicine must first have undergone a rigorous medical school process and has obtained a state professional license before starting the process. So without a permit, definitely a person is committing a serious crime.
The prohibition of unauthorized medicine practice comes as a precaution to the general public against people who would try to treat others without training using quack methods that possibly pose a health risk to a person or even kill the patient altogether. Such a practice is a criminal offense punishable with severe penalties.
However, the practice of medicine can be difficult to define on some grounds. Even though the states are responsible for giving medical licenses, some unauthorized practice can be deemed legal. For example, schools can administer prescription drugs to their students in dire need. The doctor could have already prescribed the drugs, and the action is safer than the drugs being in the hands of the student.
What Constitutes the Practice of Medicine?
A person will be considered a professional practitioner with the license when he or she will be engaged in the practice for compensation, fee, salary, or any other reward, paid to him or her directly or through another, or even without the same when doing a physical examination of a person, diagnose, treat, operate or prescribe any form of remedy for a disease or injury.
Medical Advice to Take
Medical advice plays a pivotal role in medical practice. The advice takes on the following qualities for the procedure to succeed:
- The advice in itself can mean the practice of medicine when the person giving it claims to be a doctor. It happens so because the title doctor shows that the person giving the advice has undergone a medical school and obtained a medical license. Therefore, your friends can't advise on a particular prescription because they don't claim to be doctors.
- When the advice given is specific to an individual patient's illness or injury, it may be considered medicine's practice. However, websites or journals that provide general tips on managing symptoms like cold are not training but marketing.
What are the Types of Medical Practices?
For you to understand the unauthorized medical practice, first, you should know the types of medical practices. You should know where you will do the practice as a physician or where you got the service as a patient. It implies that when you are working out of the confines of the practice as a doctor, you are committing a fraud that can be prosecuted before a court of law. Below are the types of medical practices;
Here, you only interact with one doctor without any other partner and, in some instances, minimal support staff. Medical practitioners tend to go for private services because of individual freedom; they own their own and manage their practice. As a physician, such a practice gives you closer relationships with patients and have the ability to set a growth pattern.
Here, two or more physicians provide medical care for patients within a facility. They use the same personnel and divide the profits of the venture as per the group agreement. In some cases, they can be from the same specialty or multiple specialties but serve the same purpose – practice medicine. Most of the time, they benefit a lot from the group input and are likely to grow big over a short period.
Known as health maintenance organizations, HMO’s work in a specific way where they employ healthcare service providers to care for their members and beneficiaries. Their ultimate goal is to reduce healthcare costs to consumers.
The HMO's types include staff-model and group model. In all these, they gear to provide affordable medical costs. The medical providers employed enjoy a stable work-life with regular hours and regular salary with possible bonus opportunities based on patient satisfaction and productivity.
In this type of medical practice, a physician is employed to work in a hospital. His/ Her work is restricted to this location while earning a predictable amount of income. This type also brings about a regular patient base as well as a reliable referral network. They can work in a hospital-owned practice or in a department of that particular hospital with low to no business and legal risk.
In the Latin language, it's a phrase meaning to hold the place of. The medical practice takes locum tenens to areas that lack healthcare professionals and in dire need. This type of service dates back to the 1970s offering temporary employment with higher pay than permanent positions. Doctors or physicians who take this line are advantaged and enjoy numerous types of practices and geographical locations. However, you risk a potential steady workflow if you are to be a locum.
Knowing the type of medical practice will help you a lot if you're on the wrong side of the law and need a criminal defense law firm. It is essential to know what you expect and considers your personality and preference before taking a particular practice.
Examples of Unauthorized Practice of Medicine
- When an immigrant who has been a medical practitioner in another country offers his/her services to treat diseases in the U.S. for some form of compensation without having an M.D. license
- An herbalist advertising his / her ability to cure chronic diseases like cancer
- A person may have a nursing degree and performs abortions at a fee.
- Owning a medical clinic without a medical license
- A doctor aiding and abetting the self-help group provides treatment in an owned clinic by the group members.
- A doctor residing from another state like Texas, diagnosing and treating California residents without a California MD license via a website
- A doctor is dispensing his or her services while having a revoked or suspended license.
- Employing a quack without a license to treat or diagnose patients
- Practicing in a specialty for which you are not trained or without the supervision of a licensed physician
- Prescribing drugs in excess or without a legitimate reason
- Conviction of a felony case
In addition, unlicensed persons cannot perform these other outermost activities that are part of practicing medicine:
- Define tests for a patient
- Determine that a patient needs a referral to another physician
- Manage the care and treatment of a patient
- Dictate the number of patients a physician is seeing in a day
- Hire or terminate physicians, nurses, or other medical staff on the grounds of proficiency
Penalties for Unauthorized Medical Practice
Practicing medicine without a license can be charged before a court of law in San Jose as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The penalties depend on the severity of the act and differ per state. You may risk the following charges:
Jail or Prison
If you are found practicing medicine without a license, you will be convicted of a misdemeanor and face a jail term of maximum one year. For felony offenses, you face a jail term of eight or more in state prison.
Despite having a jail term, you can also be fined when practicing medicine illegally. In incarceration sentences, the fine differs depending on whether the offense was a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor crimes attract fines of no more than $1000 with a possibility of even more massive fines. On the other hand, a felony is usually higher and can go beyond $10,000.
Probation sentence can also be served if you're found to be illegally practicing medicine. The probation sentence's main aim is to allow the convicted individual to perform his/ her sentence outside jail or prison setup. In as much as you are not in jail, probation limits what you can do. Mostly such sentences last one year but can also be multiyear in some instances. When in probation, a convicted person complies with court restrictions like making regular reports to a probation officer, the officers are searching your home at will, seeking officer's permission before moving out of an area, paying all the required levies in fines, and not committing further crimes.
Restitution comes when someone illegally practices medicine and charges the patient out of it or when the illegal action harms a person causing death, and the court gives a directive for restitution. In this process, payments received in the form of compensation goes to victims who may have suffered because of the malpractice. Most of the time, the amounts to be received in compensation differ from case to case.
What Happens in Death, Injury, or Harm Claim?
Despite the unauthorized practice of medicine being a crime, some actions are more lethal than others. For example, when a purporting doctor conducts an abortion for a patient, it's more dangerous than just a prescription. Laws governing medical practice provide additional penalties for doctors who perform such actions.
A state may prohibit a person who is not licensed from advertising his services as a physician just as an illegal practice. The same state may provide harsher laws giving room for severe penalties if a criminal procedure is done and results in financial, physical, or psychological harm. It gets further complicated if a patient dies because the person can be charged for manslaughter.
However, some claims may be excluded from the crime of unauthorized practice of medicine. For example, applying home remedies like creams to sick ones, giving advice, writing about nutrition, or medical conditions doesn't meet the medical malpractice threshold. Besides, performing other healthcare-related activities cannot be considered practicing medicine. When you act as a pharmacist, nurse, or dentist, you are not practicing medicine though such professions also should be appropriately licensed by the state.
Therefore, it is vital to consult a competent attorney when faced with a medical malpractice criminal charge. You will be advised appropriately on the next course of action to take, and at times the attorney can represent you during court proceedings.
What to Know about Prosecution of Medical Malpractice?
For you to be convicted of violating Penal Code 2052, the prosecution team must prove these elements for the conviction to succeed:
- You practiced, attempted to practice, or publicized practicing medicine in California State.
- You diagnosed, conducted an operation, or prescribed a disease, blemish, deformity, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or physical condition.
- You committed such an offense without a valid, unrevoked, or unsuspended license or authorization to perform such an act. It can also be termed as you engaged in a conspiracy or aided or abetted the aforementioned activities that qualify to be a crime.
Having these elements in mind, you should know that you must not have caused any harm or bodily injury to be convicted of violating Penal Code 2052. However, if any harm or body injury occurs, then this can lead to additional charges in your case.
When Does Aiding and Abetting Come In?
San Jose only allows medical clinics to be owned by medical doctors or those with medical degrees. When you own or profit from the enterprise's proceeds without approval, you are engaged in a serious crime.
A doctor can help you perpetrate a crime, helping you commit the crime that comes handy with abetting. He or she will encourage or incite unauthorized practice of medicine that may likely jail you.
Doctors who agree to practice in such a clinic commits an offense and are criminally culpable. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will likely face a year in jail or a fine up to $5,000. Felony cases attract a jail term of up to three years if convicted.
Possible California Criminal Lawyer Group Legal Defenses to Unauthorized Practice of Medicine
If you are charged with violating Penal Code 2052, our criminal defense law firm attorney will be able to raise defenses on your behalf. The defense may include:
Proof that you were not practicing medicine as defined by California Law
With the overwhelming numbers of patients seeking for western medicine, some practices or treatments may not fit the legal definition of medical practice. Therefore, if the treatment you performed is not under California's legal, medical practice bracket, you should not be convicted of such a crime.
That you were engaging in a self-help group
In a self-help group practice, the medication is usually run by members of the group without licensed healthcare professionals. There is a possibility of arguing your case out as not practicing medicine but engaged in a self-help group in defense against medicine's unauthorized practice.
You can reach us immediately when you suspect that a patient you have been attending is leveling false allegations against you. Often patients who are unhappy with their treatment can allude that you are behind their medical regress. Such accusations can lead to a conviction of false crimes. If you happen to be in such a situation, contact us promptly to guide you on the way forward.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
Mistakes do happen during treatment at health care facilities that can significantly impact the patient's well-being and the efficacy of the facility. On that note, the problems must be reported to the regulatory board to reduce the likelihood of such occurrence and to create solutions to such issues.
If you wish to have an attorney, you can contact our criminal defense law firm to pursue medical malpractice. The lawyer will assist you in filing the report with the state medical complaint board to ensure you do not make damaging statements that can negatively impact future lawsuit.
Even though it is prudent to file a doctor or hospital malpractice report, it does not initiate a lawsuit immediately. However, it is necessary to contact an attorney before filing a case. You will need legal advice and possibly want a good lawyer for the Claim.
Where Should You Report a Doctor or Hospital?
When filing a report on medical malpractice, you should do so via:
State Medical Complaints Board
All medical errors should be reported here. The patient will be required to fill a form identifying the mistake that happened, the parties involved, and the action's harm. All contact information is available at Consumers Checkbook for all the states of the U.S.
In some instances, a claim can never be responded to because a doctor reported may have a strong professional record, and the board saw the mistake as an isolated incident. However, if similar complaints arise from the doctor in the future, there is a likelihood that the board may sanction the doctor.
Despite the medical complaint board having a mandate of providing the professional medical community with information regarding a doctor or hospital not meeting professional standards, a patient may need to notify the general public of the mistakes of a doctor or a hospital.
Some websites rank the performance of doctors and hospitals as per the patients' feedback. Take advantage of such websites' reviews because the medical board does not provide reports on individual doctors or hospitals to the public. You can use this as an effective way to warn other patients of a rogue doctor or medical malpractice in a specific hospital.
What to Expect After Making a Report?
When you file a report with a state medical complaint board, the doctor or hospital (perpetrator) will be given the same report alongside an associate insurance company. The insurance will act as a precursor to the medical lawsuit and, in some cases, may compensate the patient.
If an insurance company offers some money, be hesitant to accept such an offer. Do this because when you take the offer, you will no longer sue anyone for medical malpractice because you have signed for a release of rights that is part of the deal.
However, be sure of the stand you take before taking action. If unsure, contact an attorney over the medical malpractice. The lawyer is tasked to provide a reasonable estimate of the potential award in the lawsuit.
Find a San Jose Criminal Attorney Near Me
Do not live a life of despair, even if charged with practicing medicine without a license. Even though such fraud can affect you for the rest of your life, our competent team of lawyers will represent you in a court of law.
Unauthorized practice of medicine, criminal charges are serious and when facing an investigation or charge, consult California Criminal Lawyer Group for assistance. Our attorneys have been defending those charged with medical malpractice offenses and ensuring you protect all your rights when you speak about your case before reaching the investigators.
Call California Criminal Lawyer Group today to help you understand laws governing medical practice. The early you reach out, the better. So contact us via 408-622-0204 if you need legal guidance on a criminal charge.