Medical malpractice insurance is a form of Errors and Emissions (E&O) insurance. It’s a way of protecting physicians and others who work in healthcare against any claim that alleges that negligence or errors on their part injured a patient. Medical malpractice insurance is crucial for all healthcare service providers, including physical therapists, opticians, dentists, and nurses. It is sometimes known as medical professional liability insurance, or nurse liability insurance.
Many people are confused as to whether they require liability insurance in their work; below we detail reasons why you can’t be without it.
1. Everybody makes mistakes
It’s a simple fact of being a human being that you will occasionally make a mistake. You won’t have meant to, but a lack of intention won’t shield you from having to assume responsibility for the consequences. If you have insurance, the consequences of mistakes (provided they are accidental rather than negligent) will fall on your insurer rather than your bank balance. Of course, the best way of avoiding any unpleasant consequences is to eliminate mistakes as much as possible. As a medical professional your life is dedicated to avoiding pain and suffering for your patients, so you will work hard to avoid mistakes. If a death occurs because of a mistake, you may face a wrongful death suit, which could seriously disrupt your business and career.
2. Guard your reputation
You have probably spent many years building up a client roster and a good reputation in your field, and you’ll know what hard work this is. If you face a medical malpractice suit, your reputation can be wiped out in an instant. If you have medical malpractice insurance, firstly you will be able to defend your reputation against any false or erroneous claims made against you, and secondly it boosts your reputation by showing clients that you care about their well-being and are prepared to pay for insurance to make sure that if anything does go wrong, they will be compensated.
3. Protection for company income
If you face a medical malpractice lawsuit and do not have medical malpractice insurance, you will most likely have to take funds out of your company income to meet your legal costs. All lawsuits entail considerable expense, particularly for the losers. Many forms of malpractice insurance not only offer assistance in meeting legal costs but may also will help to cover your wages whilst you deal with the suit, meaning that at least you won’t have to worry about meeting the needs of your personal life and those of your family.
4. Breach of privacy
Medical professionals handle some of the most sensitive personal information available, and there are very strict regulations about the way this information should be stored, shared, or deleted. Patients trust their physicians to keep their data confidential. Data security is not covered by medical malpractice insurance, so physicians and other healthcare professionals should seriously consider taking out cybersecurity insurance. This will ensure that if there are any cyber-attacks or other security breaches with patient data, your insurance will pay any compensation due for breach of privacy and any fines imposed by regulators.
5. Eliminate stress
The practice of medicine is often extremely stressful, physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Medical professionals literally have their patients’ lives in their hands, and the consequences of a single mistake can be catastrophic. If in addition to dealing with all this stress you have to deal with the worry of a lawsuit, it can feel overwhelming. Apart from the fear that you might lose your business or your license to practice, being sued by the very people you were trying to help represents an enormous mental challenge.
However, if you make sure you have the correct insurance in place, a lot of that stress can be taken away from you. You won’t have to deal with the minutiae of legal matters; your insurance company’s lawyers will do that, and often the only involvement you will have will be to write down your evidence and sign off on any agreement that is reached.
Having this stress taken away from you will allow you to carry on your practice efficiently even while you are facing a malpractice suit, and knowing that legal experts are there to defend you can take an enormous weight off your mind.
6. Defense against dishonesty
Unfortunately, as anyone working in the medical world will be aware, in the modern era there is a significant minority of claimants who file frivolous lawsuits which have no foundation in the hope that individuals or companies would rather pay up than face years of stressful litigation. Although there are some safeguards in place to stop totally baseless lawsuits, the nature of the law is that everyone must be allowed to state their case, even if to the outsider it seems absurd.
Medical liability insurance takes away much of the stress that such frivolous lawsuits can bring you. Your insurance company is the entity that would be liable if a frivolous claim was successful, so you can be assured that they will use all legal means at their disposal to have baseless claims thrown out at the earliest opportunity; sometimes you might not even have to be involved at all, you simply hand everything to your insurance company and let them deal with it, allowing you to carry on with your business of dealing with patients.
Just as important as knowing what you should be looking for when setting up your medical malpractice policy is knowing what might be excluded. Many malpractice policies, including nurse malpractice policies/liability insurance, exclude the following:
– Any actions which took place while the insured was influenced by alcohol or drugs
– Any actions involving sexual misconduct
– Any actions involving dishonesty, fraud, criminality, or illegality
– Any injury caused by using motorized vehicles (this includes loading/unloading patients)
– Any claim related to a business owned or managed by the policyholder (e.g., clinics or nursing homes) not specifically mentioned in the policy
– Any claim caused by certain excluded procedures (e.g., administering general anesthetic)
– Any claim caused by you accidentally or deliberately disclosing a patient’s medical record without authority
You should always read the policy details carefully to understand exactly what is and isnt included in your policy.
Hopefully the above has convinced you that medical malpractice insurance is a must. Without it, the smallest error could end up costing you your reputation, your business, and your livelihood. If you work as a nurse, you can find out more about nurse liability insurance here.