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Will You Lose Your License To Practice Medicine If You're Convicted Of A Crime?

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If you're convicted of a criminal offense, will you lose your license to practice medicine? The answer may depend partially on what crime you committed and partially on the state in which you live. This is what you should know about criminal convictions, your medical license, and your ability to continue to practice in general:

The Reaction Of The State Licensing Board

Most states have a set of professional standards to which they expect doctors to adhere. A conviction of any sort, even a misdemeanor, could easily result in a finding of professional misconduct when put before the licensing board.

Many doctors are under the impression that they won't lose their license if the crime has nothing to do with their behavior as a doctor. They might expect to lose their license to practice if they are convicted of selling prescriptions or assaulting a patient. However, crimes of moral turpitude, like embezzlement and tax evasion can also lead to the loss of their license as well.

However, what can happen and what does happen may vary widely. While most states require physicians to report a conviction or guilty plea to the licensing board, the reaction to that information may not impact your license at all or for long. Studies indicate that only around 40% of doctors who are convicted of criminal misconduct directly related to the practice of medicine have their licenses revoked.

The Problem With Federal Healthcare Programs

Even if you avoid losing your state license to practice, you may still run into problems with federal healthcare programs that could affect your ability to practice. The Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can revoke your privilege to bill for treatment under those services for a number of crimes that it deems detrimental to the programs or beneficiaries.

Felony crimes like murder, rape, and assault are specifically listed and probably not surprising. However, you can also lose your right to bill if you've been convicted of a financial crime or any crime that the CMS decides could negatively impact patient care. While this doesn't affect your license to practice, it can be very problematic because not being able to bill those programs can cripple a physician's ability to make a living.  

The Response From Your Employer Or Partners

If you are in a partnership with other physicians or work for a hospital or clinic, a criminal conviction could result in your termination if you are subject to a morality clause. Most clinics, hospitals, and medical partnerships are understandably concerned with their public reputation. Your conviction or guilty plea to a crime could result in your dismissal.

If you're a physician that's accused of a crime, consult an attorney right away, even if the penalty for the crime doesn't seem severe or the crime isn't related to your profession. The potential impact on your career and ability to practice is severe.

For more information, contact The Law Office of James W. Winslow, P.C. or a similar firm.