Understanding Medical Malpractice Insurance

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If your business is involved in the healthcare field, having medical malpractice insurance is essential. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed in some way by the actions of a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional. Each year, approximately 225,000 people die from medical malpractice, such as wrong diagnoses, incorrect drug dosages, or surgical errors. This results in billions of dollars in medical malpractice payouts annually. Medical malpractice insurance is designed to protect doctors and other licensed health care providers from liability relating to inappropriate practices that lead to bodily injury, medical expenses, and legal costs.

What Malpractice Insurance Covers

Medical malpractice insurance protects against claims of medical negligence. Also known as medical professional liability insurance, a malpractice policy can cover nearly any type of entity, including corporations, limited liability corporations, and partnerships. Most types of medical malpractice insurance covers a physician’s conduct as a member of a peer review panel. If the physician is believed to make a decision deemed inappropriate that resulted in a loss of income for the claimant, then he or she would be open to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even if a health care professional provided the standard of care, he or she can still be sued.

If all goes well and the health care professional wins the case in court, there are still a number of legal costs that must be paid. Some of the most common legal fees include attorneys’ fees, court costs, arbitration costs, and settlement costs. You may also be responsible for paying punitive and compensatory damages and any medical damages incurred. If you do not win the case in court, you could be looking at significant costs associated with medical bills and a loss of income, as well as attorney and court costs.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Case

To be considered medical malpractice, a claim must possess certain characteristics. First, the claim must prove that there was a violation in the standard of care that a provider gave. Known as the standard of care, the law acknowledges that health professionals must meet certain medical standards. All patients who seek care from a licensed professional have the right to expect high-quality and consistent medical services that meet industry standards. When these standards are found not to be met, then a healthcare professional may be deemed guilty of medical malpractice.

a doctor in handcuffs going to court but he will not be fined as much since he is covered through medical malpractice insuranceNext, a claim must also prove that the health care provider caused an injury through negligence. It is not always sufficient that a provider violate the standard of care. A patient must also prove that the provider caused an injury that would have not occurred if it was not for the negligence of the doctor. The negligence must have caused the injury. Therefore, if there is an injury does not involve negligence or if the negligence did not cause the injury, there is essentially no case. Receiving an unfavorable outcome after visiting your doctor is not considered medical malpractice.

Finally, if a doctor’s negligence is found to be the cause of the patient’s harm, it must also be proven that the injury resulted in significant damages. It is important to remember that the costs associated with proving medical malpractice can be extravagant. Often times, proving such a case requires expert testimony from medical professionals and significant time spent in deposition testimony. If an injury is minor, the damages may be considered too small to pursue. To be deemed suitable for a medical malpractice case, the injury must have caused loss of income, disability, hardships, or the buildup of past or future medical bills.

Importance of Malpractice Insurance

There are numerous situations in which medical malpractice insurance could come in useful. For example, if you fail to diagnosis a major health problem or if you misdiagnose a patient, you could face a malpractice claim. Other examples include performing unnecessary surgery, ignoring or misreading laboratory results, performing surgery on the wrong site or making surgical errors, administering or prescribing improper medications or doses, or providing poor aftercare or follow-up. A few more examples include premature discharge, failure to order proper testing, not taking proper patient history, or failing to recognize symptoms that indicate a health concern.

Although there is a “science” to medicine, no one is perfect. Doctors are only human and despite their years of education and training, they can still make the occasional error in judgement. For this reason, it is important to carry medical malpractice insurance. There are several options available for businesses in search of a malpractice policy. First, health care professionals who work alone or prefer to take care of their own insurance needs may desire an individual policy. Other options include group policies, firm policies, or government policies designed for liability of medical employees against liability claims.

Types of Medical Malpractice Insurance

a gavel and stethoscope striking a block to sybolize how medical malpractice can be covered by malpractice insurance in terms of lawsuitsThere are two main types of medical malpractice insurance: occurrence policies and claims-made policies. Occurrence policies are designed to cover claims that arise from an event while the policy was subsisting. In short, this means that an event occurred while the policy was active but the suit was filed after the lapse of the policy. In comparison, claims-made policies cover events only for the period in which the policy was active. To be a claims-made policy, the treatment must have been done within this time and the lawsuit must have been filed when the policy was still active.

Learn More About Malpractice Insurance

While not required in all states, having medical malpractice insurance can provide adequate protection for health care providers, as well as peace of mind that you will not face financial ruin in the event of a lawsuit. Anyone that provides professional health care services can benefit from having malpractice insurance, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. Dentists, chiropractors, and medical professionals in other fields can also stay protected with a malpractice insurance policy. To learn more medical malpractice insurance or how to acquire it for your company, contact the experienced benefits consultants at BBG today.