Doctors and other medical providers play an important role in the greater Houston community.
They provide what many see as an essential service since they make sure that Houston’s citizens stay healthy enough to do their work and enjoy their lives.
Of course, it also these medical professionals who will work to save the lives and limbs of Texans when the need arises.
Because they have an important role, they also have a lot of power.
Doctors for instance can prescribe controlled substances, including narcotics that average people of course cannot even have legally. Doctors also are able to claim payment from Medicare, Medicaid and other state and federal programs.
Being accused of abusing this power can lead to a doctor’s facing serious criminal charges in either state or federal court. These charges can land a physician in prison for years and can also mean hefty fines, restitution and other penalties.
If a physician or other provider gets convicted, they may also lose their professional licenses. Even if they do not, they may never get their careers back on track in the wake of a criminal conviction.
Providers can face federal healthcare fraud charges
To give an example, a provider may face federal health care fraud charges if the government detects any dishonesty on the provider’s part when it comes to making claims under Medicare, Medicaid or another federal healthcare program.
In addition to fines, a person can face 10 years of prison for each offense.
The definition of healthcare fraud is very broad. Federal investigators and prosecutors can easily confuse mistakes or, especially, carelessness for criminal activity for fraud.
Doctors and other medical providers may also be accused of drug crimes
Doctors and others with the authority to prescribe drugs must follow the law when doing so.
If Texas or federal authorities believe a doctor has abused their power, they may file drug trafficking charges.
In Texas, most charges related to drug trafficking are felonies. Depending on the circumstances, even a first-time offender can face years prison. Texas even imposes mandatory minimum prison terms of at least a decade in some cases.
As with all other crimes, federal or state officials must be able to prove their charges beyond a reasonable doubt using only admissible evidence. A doctor or other provider accused of fraud or a drug-related crime should evaluate their legal options carefully.