The Denver Post reports that two Western Slope doctors were brought up on drug charges this week, alleging that the doctors overprescribed painkillers to their patients. Prosecutors say that the two doctors offered treatment that led to the deaths of four patients.
The defense has suggested that racial issues may play a part in the trial. Attorneys suggest that one of the doctors in question may be the victim of ethnic and religious prejudice. Although he is in fact a Christian, he is often assumed to be a Muslim based on his name and appearance. The defense has stated that the doctor has been the victim of prejudice in the past, and they have registered concern that his race could interfere with a fair ruling when faced with jury.
The pair is also facing fraud charges. Prosecutors have accused the doctors of fraudulently charging government health care programs following patient’s treatment. Both doctors have pleaded not guilty to all charges, and have since been released on bond. Neither the time nor the location of the trial has been set.
Doctors hold a vital and respected position in our society, and when they are charged with a crime the reaction can be proportionally strong. Mishandling the treatment of patients is a terrible crime, and it’s easy to prejudge doctors out of anger or outrage. But it’s important to remember that medical treatment is a complex science, and every patient is unique. Lawyers involved in this case will need to ensure that each case is examined individually, and judgment is postponed until after all evidence is considered.
Sources: The Denver Post, “Patients could play role in Colo. docs’ drug case,” Sept. 9, 2012