Wrongly-imprisoned doctor lets a man die. What consequences should he face?

Doesn’t he have a reason to not render assistance? Richardson and others have taken refuge in the infirmary, but are presumably still in the middle of a prison riot. Couldn’t they reasonably fear for their own safety if they were to provide aid to the injured guard and they were found by rioting prisoners? Other guards who have taken refuge would be in no more danger than they were before but other prisoners could fear retribution from rioters. Richardson could also be inviting retribution on not only himself but the other prisoners in the infirmary if discovered.

He should try to help and he may regret not helping later in life, but I agree with others that there is no legal or licensing issues for not helping. It is a riot.

If Richardson was exonerated, I can’t think of any reason not to release him. Not rendering aid to the asshole guard isn’t a crime, and it wouldn’t be a violation of the prison rules either, so there could be no legal grounds to keep him inside.

As far as re-licensing, you mentioned

Using equipment seems to me to imply rendering some kind of aid over and above that which an ordinary layman could provide - injecting medications, defibrillation, invasive procedures, etc. Doing any of that starts to verge on practicing medicine without a licence.

'You had your license taken away because it was thought you committed a felony. It turns out you didn’t, and during the time you weren’t licensed to practice medicine, you didn’t practice medicine. ’ I can’t believe that would affect his re-licensing.

If it were a TV movie, Richardson would save his life by performing delicate surgery, the guards would rescue everybody, and the homophobic guard would realize he was actually fighting his real nature, and the movie would end with them declaring their engagement.

The sequel would be porn.


Damn you, sob. You have crushed my dreams about the medical profession.

I think that bit is covered by the
“I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity” and "
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;" parts of that particular oath.

And no, I’m not arguing he had a legal duty of care. I’m arguing he had a moral one.

I missed you and your stupid hypotheticals, Skald. Fun fact: the “real Richard Kimball,” Sam Sheppard, became a pro wrestler after he was exonerated because he could no longer practice medicine.

I was gone, like, two weeks tops. Maybe not that long. But thanks.

I miss work. I’ll be glad to get back.

He’s not legally a doctor. You can’t have it both ways. Either he’s a doctor, and you don’t take his license, or he’s not, and you do. There’s no legal way, in my layman’s opinion, to blame the ex-doctor here. And that means no consequences. Morally, he might be wrong in withholding treatment, but I’m not so sure the silly bureaucracy around medicine doesn’t change the moral compass.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I think it is wrong for it to be illegal to practice medicine (or any profession) without a license, provided you inform your patients or customers of that fact and don’t try and defraud them by pretending you have a license when you don’t. “Exonerated Dave’s Unlicensed Discount Medicine” might be a lucrative business model in places where people can’t afford anything else. Speaking of which, this sort of industry-wide protectionism is exactly why many people can’t afford medical care in the first place.

Basically, if the world were different, Dr. Kimball might be in the wrong for withholding care in this scenario, but it isn’t, so he’s not. Also, going to jail for a crime you didn’t commit is essentially government sanctioned kidnapping and slavery, and I’m not going to blame the victim for acting in ways a free man normally wouldn’t. Essentially, the real criminals here are the police, prosecutor and judge who imprisoned an innocent man. Anything bad that results from that is entirely their fault.

This may verge on pedantic, but what kind of doctor was/is he?

Tossing about the Hippocratic oath is all well and good (although a bit naive), but really now, is he an oncologist? a pediatrician? a radiologist? a pathologist? I sure as hell wouldn’t want the guy doing autopsies and reading tissue biopsies doing my resuscitation in the middle of a prison riot.

Maybe, just maybe - after being in jail and out of practice, he didn’t feel capable or safe doing emergency care? Just because you saw it once in medical school 20 years ago doesn’t mean you can do it now, even if you are licensed.

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Can a non-licensed person commit medical malpractice? This seems to me to be professionally equivalent to a recent medical school graduate being denied a license because he, as a young college freshman, didn’t use all of the “skills” he had learned from Boy Scout magazines to save the life of someone who had fallen from a dorm balcony. Scummy? Perhaps. Antisocial? Maybe. Professional malfeasance? Certainly not.

You might argue that the OP’s protagonist is different because he still has his MD degree, despite not having a license to practice. The problem is that an MD doesn’t establish competence to practice - a license does. A doctor who loses his license due to an inability to safely practice medicine can’t claim that the fact that he still has his MD degree somehow proves that he really is competent.

I don’t see the problem.
He isn’t a doctor, he’s a janitor.
Even if he was still a doctor, common sense says he didn’t have to help. If he had stepped in and the guard had died or suffered injuries from treatment, he would have reasonably feared being blamed. He had every legitimate reason not to help.

Not his job. Not his responsibility.
He lost an opportunity to be a hero. I would have done the same thing.
If the injured prison doctor had asked him to assist, that would have been a good idea. As long as everyone knew the prison doctor was in charge and directing him. Otherwise, stay out of the way.

Welcome back Skald!
sic them flying monkeys on whatever got you down.

I can’t believe that I’m the first to suggest this:

The correct action would have been to treat the injured guard, but he dies anyway. <wink, wink>

Not because he didn’t like the guard, but be cause the guard didn’t like him.

Not under any Duty to Care provisions that I’ve ever seen - none of them obligate someone who isn’t a medical professional, has no prior caregiver relationship with someone, and doesn’t start treating someone’s injuries to treat a particular person. Remember, he has no license so isn’t a medical professional and can’t be a caregiver for the guy, and chose not to start treatment. Can you link a particular law that would obligate him to?

There’s just no way that I can see a medical board refusing to issue a medical license to someone who refused to practice medicine without a license. Especially since I’m sure he’d be smart enough not to say anything particularly bad on the stand - maybe the guard refused treatment (or said something that can be interpreted that way), maybe he simply didn’t feel that he could treat the injuries with the equipment available, maybe as a prisoner he learned to obey the law absolutely, or something else.

I think you can be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. Whether that is a good law or not can be debated, but it is the law.