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Medical Malpractice

8 policy essentials when purchasing medical malpractice insurance


Don't leave it to chance

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 nearly 30% in 2016 compared to 2015. 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:

  1. Claims

    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.

  2. Medico-legal complaints

    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.

  3. Good Samaritan acts

    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.

  4. Vicarious liability

    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.

  5. Unintentional intellectual property infringement

    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.

  6. Automatic run-off cover

    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.

  7. Legal representation costs

    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.

  8. Optional extensions

    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.

[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

No part of this article may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or printed form without written permission of Chubb.

Disclaimer - The content of the above article is not intended to constitute professional advice. Although all content is believed to be accurate, Chubb Insurance Singapore Limited (Chubb) makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the content of this article. Users relying on any content do so at their own risk.

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