Is Medical Malpractice Criminal?

The instances of medical doctors facing criminal charges regarding medical errors or medical malpractice are rare. However, they do indeed occur. A case in point is the recent criminal trial involving Michael Jackson’s doctor who stands accused of involuntary manslaughter. The criminal charges stem from Dr. Conrad Murray’s care of Michael Jackson. Prosecutors argue that his medical care of Jackson was so grossly negligent that it led to Jackson’s death.
According to the criminal complaint, Murray allegedly gave Jackson doses of a powerful anesthetic called propofol to help him sleep.
At the center of this criminal trial as well as any medical malpractice civil trial, the standard of care is a determining factor in the case’s ultimate outcome. Each state has different standards and definitions for what is deemed to be a reasonable standard of care. If that care is breached, there may be grounds for a civil medical malpractice case. It’s extremely rare that such standard of care devolves into something which warrants criminal charges.