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Can Medical Malpractice Be Criminal?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Medical Malpractice


Doctors have a duty to care for their patients to the best of their ability. Part of this duty is keeping that care above an acceptable standard, and any violation of this standard results in medical malpractice. Any number of actions could be considered a breach of this duty, from misdiagnosis to prescribing the wrong medication. None of these charges, however, are criminal. To be charged criminally for their malpractice, a doctor’s mistake needs to reflect unusual incompetence.

For help navigating the specifics of your medical malpractice claim, it’s a good idea to contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney. At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C, our legal team understands how difficult it is to suffer due to a medical professional’s mistake. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are knowledgeable about the medical malpractice process and know what it takes to help you receive the compensation you deserve.

When your health is at stake, you’ll want to make sure all your bases are covered. Schedule a free consultation by calling or filling out our online form today.

Severe Medical Malpractice Can Result in Criminal Charges

To be criminally charged for malpractice, your doctor must do more than merely breach their duty of care. Simple breaches will result in a regular, or civil, medical malpractice claim. To be criminally charged, your doctor’s actions must have been a “gross or flagrant deviation from the standard of care” according to Amy Cook, author of Criminal Medicine: When Malpractice Turns to Manslaughter. In other words, if your medical professional acts in a way that a reasonable person never would, their malpractice may shift from civil to criminal. Additionally, if your doctor appears to be indifferent to patients’ well-being or safety, they may be criminally liable.

State of Mind is an Essential Factor in Malpractice Cases

In addition to deviating from a normal standard of care, your doctor’s intent is also relevant. When deciding whether malpractice is civil or criminal, it must be considered whether the medical professional had knowledge of or intent to cause the damages inflicted by their care.

While it is rare to prove that a medical worker intended to cause harm, this doesn’t preclude a criminal charge of malpractice. What matters is whether the worker in question knew, or should have known, about a substantial risk that led to your damages. If they did and this considerable risk was ignored unjustifiably, it’s possible that you can bring criminal malpractice charges against them.

Subjectivity is an Issue in Criminal Malpractice

The biggest issue with a criminal medical malpractice case is that there is no single established standard of medical care. Thus, whether your doctor breached their duty of care is significantly subjective. Furthermore, medicine is not an exact science. Doctors are frequently forced to make time-sensitive decisions based on little or incomplete information. With so many split-second calls, it becomes difficult to prove that your doctor did not act in the same way a reasonable medical professional would have.

Talk to an Experienced Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

A skilled attorney is indispensable when considering all the different factors that influence a medical malpractice case. Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C is an ally you can trust throughout your malpractice case. You should contact us as soon as possible to speak with a dedicated lawyer who can answer any questions you may have about medical malpractice and compensation.

Contact our legal team at to schedule a free consultation right away.

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