Healthcare professionals need their own professional liability insurance coverage in order to shield themselves from malpractice lawsuits. According to healthcare industry experts, liability insurance is defined as “a product that protects doctors and other medical workers when courts award patients financial damages in medical malpractice lawsuits” (Danzon, 2005, p. 14). Furthermore, some healthcare establishments require their workers to have liability insurance cover. The insurance premiums that are paid by different healthcare professionals as liability cover are determined by insurance companies in accordance with various considerations such as the professional’s specialty, level of experience, and career history.
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On some occasions, individuals who are covered by their employer’s liability insurance still require their own individual cover for a number of reasons. For instance, some lawsuits might name individual healthcare professionals as defendants. Consequently, the coverage that is provided by the employer will not cover instances where a lawsuit names a healthcare professional individually. Furthermore, healthcare professionals such as physicians are required to pay for part of the damages that are awarded to patients during malpractice lawsuits (Studdert & Brennan, 2008). Other healthcare professionals such as dental assistants and nurses are also required to take up their own liability insurance in case they are named in a malpractice lawsuit.
My employer’s insurance policy is fitted into his/her own interests in regard to malpractice lawsuits. The interests of the healthcare professional are secondary to those of the employer in case of a lawsuit. For instance, some employers require their employees to take up mandatory insurance covers to ensure that their establishments are not affected by events that might transpire in the incident of a malpractice lawsuit. Statistics indicate that only less that 25% of malpractice lawsuits are won by the plaintiffs annually but the high settlements in cases of losses by healthcare professionals can have far-reaching effects on their careers (Sloan, 2013). The employers have put measures in place to shield themselves from the financial and operational shocks that result from malpractice lawsuits.
Having a personal professional liability insurance policy does not mean that an individual has a lot of money. Personal liability policies safeguard the careers of both experienced and inexperienced healthcare professionals. The issue of money is secondary to that of career prospects when it comes to liability insurance policies. The American Medical Association advises physicians and other healthcare professionals to carry out their own liability insurance policies. In addition, a personal liability policy is a mandatory requirement for practicing healthcare professionals in at least six states across the country. State sanctioned “liability programs include caps on damages and compensation funds that pay patients in the event of a judgment” (Hyman, 2011).
One advantage of having individual professional liability insurance is that it shields an individual from incurring heavy financial losses. The insurance coverage also provides healthcare professionals with legal representation and a means of investigating the claims that have been lodged against them. Individuals who have insurance cover are able to go about their professional activities with relative calm and peace of mind.
One disadvantage of having professional liability insurance is that its premiums might be expensive to some healthcare professionals. In addition, gaps in the coverage and renewal of policies might leave a healthcare professional vulnerable for a limited period of time. Having insurance coverage might also give healthcare professionals a false sense of security leading them to make mistakes. Furthermore, the insurance premiums can be adjusted upwards in case of a malpractice lawsuit.
Danzon, P. M. (2005). Medical malpractice: theory, evidence, and public policy. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Hyman, D. A. (2011). Medical malpractice and the tort system: what do we know and what (if anything) should we do about it. Tex. L. Rev., 80(1), 1639.
Sloan, F. A. (2013). Suing for medical malpractice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Studdert, D. M. & Brennan, T. A. (2008). Medical malpractice implications of alternative medicine. Jama, 280(18), 1610-1615.