How Does Malpractice Insurance Work – Overview
Medical malpractice insurance is a form of professional liability insurance designed for health care providers, such as doctors, physicians, clinicians, registered nurses, medical specialists, etc.
This insurance cover prevents liability for healthcare patients against patients who file lawsuits against them with the complaint that they were harmed by the healthcare service provider as a result of negligence or for causing intentional harm during treatment.
Medical malpractice insurance also covers liability in case of the death of a patient.
According to reports, medical negligence is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. So, it is extremely likely that a healthcare services provider will need medical malpractice insurance.
This insurance policy covers punitive damages, legal costs and medical damages caused to a patient.
What is Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Most doctors and medical practitioners need medical malpractice insurance once or more during their careers.
A study by the John Hopkins University found that medical errors are ranked among the top three causes of death in the United States, along with cancer and heart disease.
Medical negligence can happen anytime, such as during diagnosis, treatment or when advising patients regarding the treatment of an illness. It is estimated that around 250,000 deaths are caused by medical errors every year in the US.
Studies also show that over 17,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against health care service providers every year in the country. On average, a US-based healthcare professional can expect to face a medical malpractice lawsuit once every seven years.
These studies highlight the crucial aspect of medical malpractice insurance for doctors in the United States.
The majority of states in the country make it mandatory for medical practitioners to have valid medical malpractice insurance policies, including those working in hospitals or clinics.
The cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums usually depends on the geographical location and the physician’s specialty.
The premiums of medical malpractice insurance tend to be significantly high as several factors affect the cost, including claims frequently, claims severity, location of practice and the local laws.
Are there Different Types of Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Yes, there are several types of different medical malpractice insurance programs available for medical practitioners in the United States. The most basic form of medical malpractice insurance can be purchased to cover an individual (or a group) from a private insurance carrier.
There are basically two types of medical malpractice insurance policies – claims-made and occurrence policy.
Claims-made medical malpractice insurance policies are designed to cover only those claims which were filed when the insurance policy was active.
On the other hand, an occurrence medical malpractice insurance policy offers coverage for any claims made on a treatment that happened while the policy was active, even with an expired insurance policy.
The types of coverage offered by medical malpractice insurance policies can vary significantly. These may include legal fees, lawyers’ fees, settlement and arbitration costs along with medical and punitive damages.
Medical practitioners can buy group and individual medical malpractice insurance from the medical risk retention group (RRG).
This is a group of medical professionals to provide medical malpractice insurance. Besides this, you can also choose to buy malpractice insurance policies under the coverage of your employers, such as a clinic or hospital.
Medical malpractice insurance can also be bought through state and local agencies, if necessary.
Individual medical practitioners working under the government do not need to buy medical malpractice insurance as the federal government insures them against any liability claims.
How is a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Proven?
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff (patient/attorney) needs to prove a medical professional violated the standard of healthcare offered to a patient, as defined by the medical community.
For a medical malpractice claim to be valid, the following three things need to happen:
1. The plaintiff’s attorney needs to prove that there was a breach of medical protocol, which caused the practitioners to choose a different course of action than another medical practitioner may have taken.
2. The medical practitioner caused emotional or physical injury.
3. There is sufficient evidence to prove that the medical practitioner caused the damage to the patient.
Medical malpractice insurance is extremely essential, not just because state and federal laws mandate it. A medical malpractice insurance policy is an excellent safeguard for medical practitioners to avoid liability in case of a mishap and against frivolous malpractice lawsuits.