You may be one of the lucky few practitioners who have been practising for years without malpractice insurance, and haven’t had a patient claim or complaint. But that’s the problem with luck. It tends to run out.
In Singapore, claims against doctors increased by 90 per cent in five years from 2006 to 2011, reported The Straits Times. And although only around one per cent made it to court, more than half ended in financial compensation being paid.
And if you’re a nurse, physiotherapist or other allied health professional who is or has been enjoying coverage under your employer’s insurance policy, having your own medical indemnity coverage is equally vital.
So if you’re thinking about purchasing medical malpractice insurance, here are eight policy essentials to take note of:
Claims cover provides protection if you fail to follow the accepted standards of care of your professional area of expertise, resulting in harm to your patient from medical negligence.
Despite your best efforts, even the most sophisticated systems can malfunction and cause patient injury, resulting in varying patient claims in malpractice cases.
A medico-legal complaint occurs when a practitioner’s decision-making, conduct or communication skills is questioned.
While the process can take years to resolve and have a significant personal and professional impact, having coverage in your policy ensures a professional and speedy approach in handling the outcome.
Although there is no legal duty of care for medical professionals to act under law for emergent attention to a member of the general public, you do have an ethical duty to provide healthcare assistance and as a result, owe a standard of care to the person receiving such care.
Good Samaritan Acts coverage helps protect you when you provide care in emergency situations so you can focus entirely on the needs of the patient.
Vicarious liability assigns liability for patient injury to you, if you have a legal relationship to the person who caused the injury. For example, if an employed staff member causes patient injury, you may be held legally liable and responsible.
Having vicarious liability cover means you’re protected for patient injury, even when it’s out of your control.
If you’re working in research, insurance cover for unintentional intellectual property infringement is crucial.
The cover protects not only the owner of the intellectual property but also if you have unintentionally infringed upon intellectual property rights.
Run-off cover protects you from any future liabilities once you cease medical practice, either via retirement or otherwise,. An example could be that you may have treated a patient prior to retirement but who then lodges a complaint after you have retired.
Run-off coverage may extend to months or even years, but keep in mind it doesn’t protect you if you engage in medical practice during your retirement or period of absence from the medical profession.
Sometimes the defence costs associated with a malpractice case can be substantial. Having access to legal representation costs means you’re covered for associated expenses such as legal fees and won’t need to be out-of-pocket.
When purchasing an indemnity insurance policy, some policies can offer optional extensions. Chubb's Medical Malpractice Policy for example offers optional coverage for unintentional cyber and privacy infringement.
Optional extensions offer tailor-made insurance solutions to suit your professional circumstances.
Read more about how Chubb can offer you bespoke professional indemnity insurance, or contact your local office to find out more.
1 Hambali, S.N. & Khodapanahandeh, S. A review of medical malpractice issues in Malaysia under Tort litigation system Global Journal of Health Science 2014; 6(4):76-83
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Disclaimer - All contents of this article are intended for general information/guidance purposes only and not intended to be an offer or solicitation of insurance products or personal advice or a recommendation to any individual or business of any product or service. This article should not be relied on for legal advice or policy coverage and cannot be viewed as a substitute to obtaining proper legal or other professional advice, or for reading the policy documents. You should read the policy documents to determine whether any of the insurance product(s) discussed are right for you or your business, noting different limits, exclusions, terms and conditions apply in each country or territory, and not all cover is available in all countries or territories.
Healthcare professionals and establishments are especially vulnerable to complex risks and costly litigation. Contact us to find out how we can help you protect your practice, reputation and financial assets.