Yes, depending on the facts of the case and the severity of the crime, medical professionals may lose their license if convicted of a crime. Criminal offenses in Nebraska range in severity from Class I felonies that carry a sentence of life imprisonment to Class V misdemeanors punishable only by a fine of up to $100. There is no specific cut-off or list of criminal convictions that will or will not lead to professional discipline. Ultimately, whether a medical professional’s license is at risk depends on the facts of the underlying offense and whether those facts will interfere with a professional’s fitness and ability to perform their professional responsibilities. There are also various degrees of professional discipline a medical professional may face if convicted of a crime. For less serious offenses, medical professionals may have to pay a fine or they may face a period of probation. More serious offenses may result in the suspension or permanent revocation of one’s medical license.
Though the details of the crime underlying a criminal conviction is the most influential factor, the medical professional’s ability to navigate both the criminal charges and the professional disciplinary process can also have a significant impact on the severity of the punishment imposed. For this reason, it is recommended that medical professionals who have been charged with a crime seek the help of an attorney who has experience representing clients in criminal matters as well as helping credentialed professionals keep their license.
What Happens When a Medical Professional is Convicted of a Crime in Nebraska?
A medical professional may face professional discipline in addition to any legal consequences resulting from their criminal conviction. When a medical professional is convicted of a crime, they must report the conviction to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Failing to self-report could lead to additional penalties. Once the DHHS receives the report, it will review the case to determine whether further investigation is warranted. If the DHHS decides to conduct a more extensive investigation, it will prepare an investigative report for the Medical Licensing Board. The Board will then review the report and make a recommendation to the Attorney General. Finally, the Attorney General will review the report and based upon the licensing board’s recommendation, file a petition with the DHHS to discipline the medical professional. If the DHHS decides a penalty is appropriate, it may issue any combination of the following sanctions:
- Civil Penalty
What Other Types of Conduct can Lead to Revocation of One’s Medical License?
Even a criminal charge filed against a medical professional can be enough for DHHS to revoke or suspended a medical license if the resulting investigation reveals an ethical violation. The DHHS takes criminal accusations seriously, as they want to protect the public by ensuring that only the most trustworthy individuals can practice medicine. Nebraska Revised Statute 38-178 lays out the types of conduct that can lead to a doctor losing their license. These include:
- Active Addiction: Abuse of, dependence on, or active addiction to alcohol, any controlled substance, or any mind-altering substance can lead to a medical professional losing their license. Similarly, practice of the profession while one’s ability to practice is impaired by alcohol, controlled substances, drugs, mind-altering substances, physical disability, mental disability, or emotional disability can be grounds for revocation.
- Distribution of Controlled Substances: Distribution of intoxicating liquors, controlled substances, or drugs for any other than lawful purposes can be grounds for having one’s license revoked.
- Immoral or Dishonorable Conduct: If the DHHS finds that a doctor engaged in grossly immoral or dishonorable conduct, it may revoke that doctor’s license, even if the doctor was not convicted of a crime. The Nebraska legislature defines grossly immoral or dishonorable conduct as “conduct that shows that a person guilty of it either is intellectually or morally incompetent to practice the profession or morally incompetent to practice the profession or has committed an act or acts of a nature likely to jeopardize the interest of the public.”
It depends. A license suspension is designed to be a temporary penalty. The duration of a license suspension may be set for either a specific period of time or until any conditions imposed by the Board are met. An example of this would be completion of a rehabilitation program if the crime was related to drugs or alcohol. On the other hand, a license revocation is a more permanent penalty in that there is no guarantee that the professional can recover their license. However, even after having their license revoked, a medical professional can apply to have their license reinstated after two years. . However, the DHHS has full discretion to approve or deny the reinstatement application and the outcome will largely depend on the nature of the original offense and the actions the professional takes in that time to take accountability and reform behavior.
How Can a Defense Attorney Help?
Criminal charges can be especially worrisome for medical professionals. In addition to any legal penalties stemming from their conviction, they may also be at risk of losing their medical license. Therefore, it is highly recommended that medical professionals facing criminal charges hire an attorney. The attorneys at Berry Law Firm have a great deal of experience representing clients facing criminal charges as well as clients facing discipline from professional boards. They can help medical professionals navigate both the criminal procedures and the professional disciplinary process.