9 Reasons To Have Malpractice Insurance As A Practicing Doctor

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Wrong prescription medications, misdiagnosis, botched surgical procedures, and medication overdose. Do these things smell lawsuit to you?  

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide appropriate care to an ailing patient. But, not all injuries resulting from medical procedures can qualify under medical malpractice lawsuit.

An estimated 250,000 deaths are caused by medical errors in the US alone, according to a review done by Johns Hopkins. This makes medical error the third leading cause of deaths in the country next to cardiovascular disease and cancer.  

As a medical physician, you can protect yourself from the potential damaging effects of a medical malpractice lawsuit by purchasing an insurance coverage. This type of insurance can protect you in more ways than you may have initially thought. Here are some:

Financial Stability

While a high number of lawsuits end up with no payment made to the patient or the surviving family members, malpractice lawsuits continue to pile up. 

A medical malpractice claim can wreak havoc on a medical practitioner’s financial standing and assets. Depending on the level of negligence and other factors, the litigation may cause a doctor-respondent several thousands to millions of dollars in settlement. 

Besides the potential million-dollar compensation, a malpractice allegation can damage a practicing doctor’s reputation or lead to license revocation. 

With malpractice insurance, a doctor will be covered from potential complaints arising from medical errors, oversights, and other allegations of professional misrepresentation.

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State Requirement   

According to the American Medical Association, seven states in the US require all doctors to secure a minimum level of professional liability insurance before being allowed to practice. Hence, if you’re planning to relocate or open a clinic in the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, get a malpractice insurance first.    

Additional Requirement

In spite of the fact that not all states require minimal professional liability insurance, physicians may still want to purchase a coverage because they may still not be able to practice without it in other situations and settings. For instance, a number of medical facilities and hospitals strictly require visiting physicians to acquire malpractice insurance to protect their institution against potentially damaging lawsuits. In the same manner, several healthcare insurance companies demand doctors who participate in their insurance packages to have malpractice insurance themselves. 

Complement Your Employer’s Coverage

Hospitals typically have insurance to cover injuries incurred in medical facilities, whether caused by medical negligence or slip and fall accidents. 

But, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is enough. This type of insurance more often than not, doesn’t cover legal fees incurred by medical practitioners working for the facility.    

This is critical because while some lawsuits are filed against an institution, most name individual practitioners as respondents. A doctor who’s embroiled in this situation can find himself or herself losing thousands or even millions in legal payments.  

Not Time-Bound 

An employer’s insurance coverage is enforceable only while you’re working for them. Hence, when a doctor relocates to another facility, the physician is no longer covered. A malpractice claim, if filed after the relocation, will not be covered either by the former and current employer.    

As a result, the physician is left to deal with the problem without institutional help. In this instance, a malpractice insurance coverage would be extremely useful.    

Individual malpractice coverage has riders or add-on features. A nose coverage, for instance, can protect doctors from claims happening before a particular policy is in effect. Additionally, tail coverage shields practicing doctors from claims filed after the policy has expired, but with the allegation of malpractice occurring while the policy was effective.  

Take note that each state has different statutes of limitation and prescription periods. For New York malpractice statutes, for instance, you can find out here now.

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Cover Most Legal Fees  

More than half of malpractice lawsuits filed against physicians end up being dropped or dismissed. This, however, doesn’t make it easier to face the reality that any legal activity that involves a medical malpractice attorney is time-consuming and costly. 

Lawyer’s fees and other legal costs could mount even before a dismissal or acquittal is arrived at. Physicians who don’t have an insurance may find themselves severely cash-strapped following a legal battle.      

 Cover Lost Wages 

Expect to have your time, effort, and money slowly draining away when you’re facing a malpractice lawsuit. As the wheels of the justice system start turning, you’re expected to attend meetings, courtroom hearings, and participate in client-attorney conferences. These time-consuming activities all help your case, but will put a dent in your medical practice.

A malpractice insurance covers a practicing doctor’s lost wages as he or she participates in legal activities related to the lawsuit, and not just the time spent for court hearings.       

Asset and Property Protection 

A malpractice insurance coverage ensures that the physician will no longer spend his entire life-savings or sell all of his material assets just to pay for the court-mandated financial damages.

In addition to paying compensation claims on behalf of the physician-respondent, malpractice insurance companies also cover legal fees and provide assistance in validating or investing the claims made. All of these entail exorbitant spending, and a physician may not be able to pay for these costs in the long run, forcing him or her to dispose of valuable properties.  

 Peace of Mind

There’s no price tag for your peace of mind, but paying for a malpractice insurance may be the next best thing.

Whether innocent or guilty, being dragged in a lawsuit is a horrifying and traumatic experience, not only for the respondent, but more so the patient and surviving family members.

Medical practitioners may find consolation in the thought that whether they emerge victorious or defeated, the future of their family remains secure. If the patients’ claims are lawful, they’ll be aptly compensated for the injuries, damages, and losses incurred.

Final Thoughts 

Purchasing any type of insurance coverage is, no doubt, expensive. But, the upfront costs may all be worth it, once the inevitable happens.

With liability coverage, a practicing physician will be able to do what he or she does best – save more lives.