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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Essay on Health Care Professionals and Crime

A misdemeanor is used to describe a less serious crime which is punishable by imprisonment of less than one year.  Some examples of misdemeanor are disorderly conduct, trespass, vandalism, and simply assault.  A person charged with misdemeanor does not have the right to a court-appointed attorney if he cannot afford the services of a private attorney (“Felonies vs. Misdemeanors: What’s the Difference?” 2010, p.1).  In addition, a person accused of misdemeanor does not need to be present during the trial and he may be represented by his own counsel (“Felonies vs. Misdemeanors: What’s the Difference?” 2010, p.1).

Offenses are generic terms which are used to describe any violation of a law.  It is a more serious crime compared to a misdemeanor.  An offense may be a civil offense or a criminal offense.  In a civil offense, only civil laws are violated and the punishment is limited to the payment of a specific amount or loss of property.  In civil offenses, the standard of proof required is only preponderance of evidence.  The preponderance of evidence is a lesser standard of evidence compared to proof beyond reasonable doubt.  The prosecution in civil offenses needs only to establish that based on the evidence they presented the facts it is asserting is more likely to be true.  There is also no presumption of innocence in favor of the defendant in civil cases.

Providing health care is impressed with public interest.  It is a matter which involves the state or the public.  Because of the importance of the role of health care professional and their duty to the public to render the adequate degree of care commensurate with their duties, they are subject to criminal and civil liability in case they commit a medical malpractice.  

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Should a case be filed against a health care professional and the plaintiff succeeded in proving that the health care professional either committed a crime or a medical malpractice, the health care professional can be subject to criminal and civil liability (M. Enserink, 2005, p.758).  The criminal liability may involve imprisonment of the health care professional for one year or up to several years depending on the crime he committed.   The health care professional and the company whom he is working for may also be made jointly and severally liable for moral, compensatory and punitive damages in view of the injuries that the plaintiff may have suffered as a result of the action of the health care professional.

In addition, depending on the nature of the crime committed by the health care professional, the plaintiff may even go to the board which issued the license of the health care professional and file a complaint therein.  If the plaintiff won in the civil and/or criminal case, the plaintiff may use the judgment in that case as basis in filing the administrative complaint.  The Board will proceed to investigate the complaint if there is basis to suspend or revoke the license of the health care professional.  Should the board finds that the complaint is meritorious it may issue an order suspending the health care professional from the practice of his profession for a period of six months or more.  If the crime committed is serious it may issue an order revoking his license and perpetually prohibiting the complainant from practicing his profession. 

The suspension and revocation of license among health care professionals only emphasize that the practice of the medical profession is not a right but a privilege conferred only to those who have proven themselves fit to practice the medical profession (A.Clavette et al 2007, p1).  As a profession that is imbued with public interest, the health care professionals are expected to maintain the highest degree of standards.  Should they fail to discharge this duty they can be disciplined.

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