3 Possible Defenses in a Medical License Case

23 March 2021
 Categories: , Blog


If you're preparing for a medical license defense, it's a good idea to think about how you'll position your arguments. A medical license defense attorney usually tries to present one of the following three rebuttals to allegations.

It Didn't Happen

As is often the case in American law, the simplest defense, if you can assert it, is that whatever the allegation is didn't happen. Notably, the bulk of the burden of proof in a medical license defense effort doesn't rest with the accusers. This isn't a criminal proceeding, and the accusers merely need to show that a reasonable person would believe a violation might have occurred.

In other words, strict denial is a defense that can be challenging if there is some kernel of truth to the accusations. A medical license defense attorney usually won't present this argument unless there is extensive evidence that the allegations couldn't have occurred.

The Actions Were Medically Acceptable and Justifiable

More commonly, licensed medical professionals will assert that their actions made sense under the circumstances. For example, someone accused of providing an unethically high dose of painkilling drugs to a patient might assert that the individual was in the comfort phase of a fatal illness. Generally, an attorney will have several experts from the same field as the accused provide explanations of how they might offer similar care under the same circumstances.

Notably, doctors don't have to agree on the choice of care. Instead, a doctor must merely show that most other professionals in their field wouldn't object to the decision. If a surgeon used a procedure that some consider dated, for example, it probably wouldn't lead to a license revocation as long as most professionals would agree it wasn't dangerous or far out of line. There is usually some legal leeway for a doctor to exercise their judgment in these instances.

Not the Cause of the Incident

Another argument is that a professional wasn't the proximate cause of whatever happened. For example, it's sometimes hard to judge a doctor's decisions involving a patient who had been taking illicit drugs before an emergency room visit. If they stopped breathing, there would need to be strong evidence that the course of treatment was the cause. Otherwise, there's a good-faith argument that the doctor was doing their best under bad circumstances.

Cases like this often benefit from extensive documentation of the patient's condition and treatment. A medical license defense can obtain the necessary documents during the discovery process.