Defending Against Assault Charges for Physicians

Physicians rarely get accused of assault by their patients, but when a patient makes this accusation, the doctor could have several possible defenses to the charges. It is essential to work with a Seattle physician defense attorney immediately because anything the doctor says in response to the allegations could get twisted and used against the physician. 

With so much at stake, you do not want to try to serve as your own lawyer, but it can be useful to know some of the concepts these cases involve and the mental process your attorney will use when defending against assault charges for physicians.

Types of Assault Charges Against Physicians

Assault allegations against doctors tend to fall into one of these three categories:

Lack of Informed Consent 

Usually, if someone sticks a knife into someone else, the law calls that an assault. The reason that doctors have patients sign a consent to treatment form is to prove that the individual knew what the physician was going to do (perform surgery) and consented to the procedure. The doctor could then perform the invasive procedure on the patient. 

Some patients get angry after an operation and make accusations that the physician performed procedures without consent. We look to the language of the consent form when defending the doctor in this situation. The document should include wording that gives the physician permission to take additional steps. For example, if the patient goes in for exploratory surgery, the patient allows the doctor to remove tissue that shows signs of malignancy.

Also, there is an emergency exception to the requirement of informed consent. When a person is in critical condition, a healthcare professional can take action to save the patient’s life, even though the individual could not sign a consent form.

Sexual Assault

When a person makes a false allegation of sexual assault against a doctor, the accuser might have a financial motivation of wanting a big settlement from the physician’s liability insurance carrier. The individual seldom thinks beyond the payday they seek for slandering the doctor. The physician could also face criminal charges, a ruined reputation, and loss of the license to practice law.

The best defense to sexual assault charges by patients is two-fold: always follow office protocols like having a second healthcare professional in the room during examinations, and never have personal or intimate relationships with any patients. As long as these rules get adhered to without exception, the physician defense attorney can build a case for defending against the assault charges.

Medical Malpractice 

There have been a few cases in which a doctor was accused of performing surgery while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or committed outrageous medical malpractice that inflicts devastating harm on or kills the patient. In these situations, some prosecutors file criminal assault charges, calling the physician’s hands a deadly weapon. 

Defending a doctor against charges of assault is sophisticated litigation. You could lose your medical license, your good name, and your career, but you could also face criminal charges with possible jail time and fines. A Seattle physician defense attorney can advocate aggressively on your behalf to get the best possible outcome. Contact us today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on physician defense. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.