Malpractice Insurance: Explanation Of Malpractice Insurance

Medical malpractice lawsuits are common and come with high defense costs for the person sued and with high payouts to victims of negligent medical care. Malpractice insurance is a must for anyone in the medical field. Even the most talented and successful doctor can be accused of making a mistake.

Most malpractice insurance policies have indemnities worth several millions of dollars. Most states require people in the medical profession to carry malpractice insurance, and the amount of coverage required is also regulated by your state.

Standard treatment protocols are mandatory for diagnosing and treating illnesses. If you do not follow these procedures, it is possible to cause injury and even death to a patient. It does not matter if it was inadvertent; you can still be sued for not following a procedure or for gross negligence.

As a physician or any other medical personnel, you can obtain malpractice insurance directly from most insurance companies or through a physician-owned mutual company. If you work at a hospital or any other type of medical facility, you will probably be covered under its master insurance policy. A government-employed physician does not require malpractice insurance; all lawsuits are directed to the state or federal government.

Malpractice Insurance: Explanation Of Malpractice Insurance

Your malpractice insurance premium is based on a number of factors:

  • Your area of medical expertise.
  • The services offered in your clinic or hospital, i.e.: allergy testing or trauma center.
  • The geographical location where you practice medicine, i.e.: urban or rural.
  • The risk level of your patients based on historical lawsuit data for your type of patients.
  • The confidence the insurance company has in their risk level assessment.
  • The insurers projected administration costs.
  • The expected profit and investment income.

There are three types of malpractice insurance policies to cover three different contingencies.

  1. An occurrence policy covers incidents that happened while a policy was active, which means you are still covered for the past even if you cancel your policy or switch insurers.
  2. A claims-made policy covers you only if your policy is active at the time you are being sued. If you did not have the same policy at the time of the occurrence, which could have been years previous, you may not be covered.
  3. Tail coverage will cover past occurrences if you switch employers or cancel your malpractice insurance policy.

If you are a doctor or a nurse, you will likely be sued at least once for medical malpractice. Most claims are unfounded, but not all.

Malpractice Insurance: What Does Malpractice Insurance Cover?

Medical malpractice in the U.S. has a history of high payouts to the victims of gross negligence and high fees to the doctor’s defense attorneys. Your malpractice insurance will cover your defense expenses when you win and when you lose, including:

  • Court fees and attorney fees.
  • Any expenses you may incur during the course of the case.
  • The judgment or settlement awarded to the victim if you are found at fault.

Medical malpractice is defined as the negligent treatment or intentional injury of a patient that results in a patient suffering from serious medical setbacks and even death. There are many situations that can arise and mistakes that can be made during the course of caring for a patient. Even an honest mistake can have serious repercussions. The contingencies that can happen include:

  • A negative outcome in the use of experimental medication.
  • Surgical errors including nicked organs, wrong or unnecessary procedures, objects left in the patient and infections that are left untreated.
  • Injuries and cerebral palsy can occur during the birth of a baby. A doctor can also be sued for not performing a cesarean section to avoid birthing defects.

A plastic surgeon can be sued for a disfigurement resulting from cosmetic surgery. Very few insurers will cover a cosmetic surgeon; however if the surgery is in aid of reconstruction or has some other practical purpose, the surgeon can be insured.

A medical practitioner’s failure to perform his duty can have serious repercussions and result in a patient suffering from an even more debilitating health issue, such as a heart attack, cancer, stroke, meningitis, epileptic seizure and physical disfigurement.

A cancer misdiagnosis can result in serious medical health issues. A doctor can be found guilty of negligence through improper or incorrect blood tests, failing to recognize cancer symptoms, and not following cancer screening test protocols.

Malpractice Insurance: What Does Malpractice Insurance Cover?

Prescription errors can occur at the fault of the physician through poor handwriting, a wrong prescription, incorrect dosage or directions, and failure to identify drug allergies.

You could be accused of negligence in a nursing home for situations such as bedsores, malnutrition, and dehydration, injuries sustained from falling or being restrained, improper supervision resulting in patients leaving the facility.

Malpractice insurance is called liability insurance in other professions and protects you, as a medical professional, from claims of liability made by your patients.

Malpractice Insurance: Who Needs Malpractice Insurance?

It is highly recommended that everyone who is in the business of caring for other people carry malpractice insurance. It is so important that in most U.S. states, malpractice insurance is mandatory.

In the medical field, there is a wide scope of jobs done and work performed to care for the health and welfare of a country’s citizens. Usually the jobs are thankless and the doctors and nurses are untiring in their quest to heal and cure their sick patients. Unfortunately, there are factors that work against most medical practitioners.

  • A patient that is suffering from a serious illness is also usually very afraid, and in keeping with human nature, a scared patient usually needs to blame someone. That someone often ends up being their doctor, nurse or other medical advisor.
  • Also, medical malpractice claims have a long history of judgments for the victims totaling in the millions of dollars. This has encouraged the less honest citizens to claim doctor negligence.

Doctor and surgeon are the most obvious professions in the medical field that should have malpractice insurance; however, there are many more that should also make sure they are covered for personal liability.

  • Nurse, obstetrician, pediatric and all therapists.
  • Dentist, pharmacist and optometrist.
  • Laboratory technician.
  • Chiropractor, physical therapist and sports trainer.
  • Veterinarian.

Facilities whose function is to provide care and treatments for sick or elderly patients must carry malpractice insurance for the business and all of the employees. Facilities including:

  • Hospital, health clinic, hospice, ambulance and emergency facilities.
  • Assisted living, retirement and nursing homes.
  • Medical educational facilities that provide hands-on experience should insure their students and faculty.
  • Medical spa for hormone and weight therapy, acupuncture and cosmetic treatments.

Malpractice insurance is a must in other areas of medicine that are not always considered but can have a connection with patients and can be sued for malpractice if their actions result in a patient suffering a serious medical side-effect, including death.

  • Social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist.
  • An attorney or accountant can make erroneous legal or financial decisions that can lead to the improper care of a patient.

Being a part of the medical field is one of the most honorable jobs a person can have; make sure you protect yourself so you can continue to provide help to your patients.

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