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New York doctor faces criminal charges for prescription sales

Doctor and surgical errors are often the basis for medical malpractice claims. But in some instances, where the conduct is considered reckless, criminal charges may be added to the malpractice claims. One New York doctor is currently charged with prescription-sale and reckless endangerment. The charges stem from one patient who was hospitalized a number of times for overdoses and eventually died from an overdose in 2010.

Prosecutors, however, do not think that is the end of the story. Nine more of the doctor's patients also died of overdoses and prosecutors want to bring additional charges against the doctor. The overdose trend implies intentional acts of negligence rather than simple medication errors.

The doctor likely knew of the dangerous and negative side effects of his prescribing techniques. His patient files indicate that he received many calls from his colleagues who had concerns about patients abusing painkillers or overdosing. The special narcotics prosecutor's office says they are gathering evidence to present to a grand jury.

The doctor's trial is scheduled for December. If prosecutors do bring additional charges, they may need to be presented at separate trials. The doctor has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Even though the focus is currently on the criminal charges against the doctor, the families of the overdose victims may be able to pursue legal action in the form of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Doctors have a duty to give their patients proper care and treatment. When they are blatantly negligent, they should be held responsible through every aspect of the law.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "More charges eyed in NYC MD prescription-sale case," Associated Press, June 19, 2012

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