As per a recent ruling by the New Jersey High Court, an injured patient did not have the right to sue the surgeon who had made errors while putting screws in his foot. This is because the practitioner had no medical malpractice insurance in place. This case is of James Jarrell, who, suffering from a lumbar disk (herniated) condition, had undergone a spinal fusion procedure. The operation was performed by a board-certified anesthesiologist, Richard Kaul; in 2005, at the Market Street Surgical Center. In a split ruling, the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that a medical expert, who lacked malpractice insurance, either partially or totally, should not be disciplined in court. It was the state medical board’s responsibility to take such a physician or other health care provider to task.
Moreover, the NJ High Court also ruled that the medical facilities hiring such doctors (or allowing them to carry out their surgeries in their establishments) had to take more care while dealing with medical professionals. If such facilities failed to perform adequate due diligence with respect to their doctors being covered by a line of credit, or insurance, they could be sued.
Well, with medical malpractice insurance becoming the new buzzword, it’s time to know the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the same. Take a look.
The Umbrella of Medical Malpractice Insurance
As a medical practitioner, you know how impossible it is to be too safe in the healthcare industry. Cases pertaining to wrongful death, hospital negligence or poor standard of care are galore. Regardless of your designation, your performance impacts the lives of your patients, and on a daily basis. Because of this, medical malpractice insurance becomes a necessity for all healthcare professionals like you. It can be obtained in the form of coverage via a professional insurance company, or your employer, or both. So, even if you are already covered, or are planning to get the insurance soon, you need to have a fair idea about how to get this coverage, the reasons why you must be covered, and your eligibility for insurance, etc. You would not like to be trapped in a case pertaining to medical negligence, would you?
Medical Malpractice Insurance – What is it?
Oft referred to as “Professional Liability Insurance,” medical malpractice insurance has different policies to its credit. Yes, it covers professionals in this field with different things, even the quality of care meted out their patients. These include:
- Coverage for all claims
- Aggregate coverage that encompasses all claims
- Coverage of the costs of defending yourself
- License protection
- Deposition representation
- 24-hour coverage on insurance purchased by yourself
Some insurance companies may also allow coverage for:
- Personal liability coverage
- Personal injury coverage
- Coverage of third party property damages
- Medical payments
- Assault coverage
Different kinds of Insurance for Medical Malpractice
‘Claims made’ and ‘Occurrence’ are the two main types of covers for malpractice.
Occurrence coverage, though rare in contemporary times, is for incidents taking place during the policy period, regardless of when their claims are reported. Say, you had occurrence coverage in the period 1995-1996 and a claim was reported as of yesterday for an incident that took place in June of 1995 – you would still be covered by your employer (or the insurance agency) with whom you were linked up at that time.
On the other hand, the ‘Claims Made coverage’ is commonly provided by both insurance companies and employers. Here, the incident should take place, and be reported to the right channels, in the period in which the policy remains in force. The end of the policy brings the coverage to an end too. So, taking the above example forward, to be covered under this kind of insurance, the claim had to be reported in June 1995 (or within the time of expiry of the policy) when it occurred.
Are you Eligible for Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Oh yes, you are! In fact, all healthcare professionals are eligible for the medical malpractice insurance. There are different kinds of coverage for different job titles: physical therapists, physicians, nurses, and so forth. As the coverage provided by employers may not cover all job profiles, it is a good idea to purchase insurance after looking at all the terms and conditions that apply to you.
Benefits of Getting Medical Malpractice Insurance
Buying additional insurance is a smart move if you happen to have employer coverage. Did know that most employer-based malpractice policies will rarely cover their healthcare workers 24 hours a day? Any extra coverage will go a long way in protecting you when you are serving as a Good Samaritan or offering casual advice in your capacity as a surgeon, physician, nurse or therapist. In case you get tangled in a lawsuit, personal coverage comes into play when the incurred legal costs exceed the amount covered by your employer’s policy. It also comes in handy when you are sharing your employer-based insurance cover with co-workers.
Getting Medical Malpractice Insurance is Easy
If your employer has not provided the coverage, then, go ahead and buy your own medical malpractice insurance from a physician-run or private insurance company. The cost of getting insurance can be determined by:
- Hospital admitting privileges
- Selected limit of liability
- Kind of medicine practiced
- The type of medical procedures performed
- Closeness to major city hospitals
- Prior claims history
- The time duration of your medicine practice, and so forth.
Your medical malpractice insurance covers you in more ways than one. So, quit procrastinating, and get yourself insured if you are not under the umbrella of protection yet!
- Asbury Park Press. (2015, September 30). NJ: Doctors don’t have to disclose they lack insurance. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from Asbury Park Press: http://www.app.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/2015/09/30/nj-doctors-disclose-lack-insurance/73116094/
- MedPro Group. (2015). Top Reasons Physicians Choose MedPro for Their Professional Liability Insurance. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from MedPro Group: http://www.medpro.com/medical-malpractice-insurance
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2015, August 27). Medical Professional Liability Insurance. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from National Association of Insurance Commissioners: http://www.naic.org/cipr_topics/topic_med_mal.htm
- Rizzo, S. (2015, September 30). J. Supreme Court sides with doctor on malpractice. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from NorthJersey.com: http://www.northjersey.com/news/nj-state-news/n-j-supreme-court-sides-with-doctor-on-malpractice-1.1421496
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