Malpractice Insurance

  1. How many of you carry personal malpractice insurance? If you do, what area of nursing do you practice?

    In OB, which is one of the higher liability areas, we were discussing if it is a good idea or not to have personal malpractice insurance. Some see it as a bad sign if an RN carries this, or others see it as just available funds for settlement. In other words, if a patient knows that the money is out there, they are more likely to try to settle for that amount, verses if you have the hospital cover you they are only likely to settle for, say $100,000.
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  2. 34 Comments

  3. by   JennieBSN
    I don't carry it for the exact reason you stated some people choose not to. Many, many, MANY people have advised me that yes, if a lawyer sees that you carry personal malpractice insurance, this is a 'flag' and they'll go after you personally to get the big bucks. As long as your hospital carries it FOR you, and you always operate under the hospital's practice guidelines as well as state/national guidelines, you should be okay. I've talked to lots of older nurses who've been doing OB for decades, one in particular who has seen quite a few depositions in her time, and all agree that the expense of personal mal. ins. isn't worth it in the long run. It's rare that a nurse is sued personally...usually she's sued along with the MD, the hospital, and any other nurse whose name is on the chart. Case in point, I'll probably be deposed soon on a case where the only part I had in it was doing the post-mortem care on the baby. My name is on the chart, though, so I'm gonna get called. But I know the hospital will cover me and provide me with legal counsel.
  4. by   Q.
    Kday - do you trust your employer to fully cover you and not really "drop" you?
    What would happen if you were indeed sued personally? It's that thought that kind of frightens me. I was once told that if you have malpractice insurance, not to really mention it or make a claim unless the settlement is above and beyond what the hospital covers.
    How do you find out exactly what the hospital covers?
    What if you were negligent but it had something to do with say, staffing concerns, or being forced to run 3 inductions?
  5. by   3651bht
    People are sued on the basis of how much they can pay. Nothing from nothing is still nothing. People sue the "deep pockets". Don't know about you but mine are quite shallow. Ever wonder how the insurance companies would make any money if we didn't buy insurance from them????? Sorta like the snake oil saleman. Scare them and they'll buy.... TTFN We are all saleman of a sort....
  6. by   Q.
    I understand that rationale, except an attorney once told me that if a settlement is beyond what is available, they can collect on your assests: such as a home, cars, and even your spouse's income. (Wisconsin is a marriage property state) I am scared about that and wonder if it would be worth it to protect my assests, as well as my husband's.
  7. by   Chris-FNP
    If you really think the hospital will "stand behind you" if you make a mistake...your dreaming!!! If you make a mistake that leads to a lawsuit, your employer will not only fire you, but they will also claim that it was not their fault due to your own personal incompetence. If the mistake is bad enough, you will have a personal lawsuit on your hands and you may lose your license (not to mention your house and car). Hospitals are out to make money, not pay large sums of cash for an employee's mistake. Personal malpractice insurance is relatively cheap and worth the investment.

    Chris-FNP

    [This message has been edited by Chris-FNP (edited March 28, 2001).]
  8. by   lkushen
    Interesting topic to me. I have carried personal malpractice insurance since the day I became licensed. Today, we live in a very litigenous society, and it seems the wise thing to do.

    When someone feels they have been wronged by something you have done, they do not inquire ahead of time whether or not you carry your own insurance. They will go after you regardless.

    Having been a licensed insurance agent prior to obtaining my nursing degree, I saw the damage that can be done to individuals without adequate insurance. A court will not award based on the ability to pay.

    Personally, I worked too hard to obtain my license, my home, my assets for my family. Heaven forbid if I make an error in my nursing practice and it results in a malpractice suit - I would want to be insured to cover it. At least I feel that if something ever happenned and I lost my nursing license, I would still have my home, rather than being out on the street.

    The other side of the coin is what about when you tell your neighbor some sort of medical advice when they inquire since they know you are a nurse?... You are held to a higher level of responsibility than the lay person due to your licensure. Your employer does not cover this. Or when you spend the week as a day camp leader for a scout troop and they utilize you when someone injures themselves?...same scenario in regards to your employer. Yes, we watch who we give advice to, not just any John Doe on the street, however even that neighbor can be told something that ends up being harmful and sues our butts!

    Be careful...my advice is to protect yourself. We would never think of not insuring our home or autos if we could afford to. Business' would not dream of not covering their liability. Yes, some people play roulette with their lives and health regarding insurance. Don't play roulette with your license related to your assets.

    Just my opionion. Thanks.
  9. by   st4304
    I was told by a malpractice attorney that when he sues a hospital, if anyone involved has malpractice insurance that person will also be sued, otherwise probably not. Also, if for any reason your hospital loses a lawsuit in which you are named AND you have malpractice insurance, after the dust settles, the hospital most likely will sue you and your insurance company to get its money back.

    I work with 2 RNs who each had a patient fall and break hips while under their care. Both separate instances were settled out of court by the hospital, both nurses were found to be at no fault, and neither were penalized. Neither has malpractice insurance either.

    Seems it's "damned if you do and damned if you don't".
  10. by   st4304
    I just want to add to my last post that what saved both nurses were their very precise and excellent charting skills, using statements from witnesses, quoting the patient and family, actions taken, etc., etc. The attorney I referred to also stated that nurses charting (or lack thereof) can make or break a case.

  11. by   st4304
    I just want to add to my last post that what saved both nurses were their very precise and excellent charting skills, using statements from witnesses, quoting the patient and family, actions taken, etc., etc. The attorney I referred to also stated that nurses charting (or lack thereof) can make or break a case.

  12. by   3651bht
    A couple of flaws in your thinking. First you could still lose your license, get fired and lose your home, car etc with or without insurance. Next ask an OB or surgeon what he pays for malpractice insurance. The probability of a lawsuit is proportional to the amount of money you have to pay for it. Also the area where you work. Just as insurance costs more for that Mercedes. If you insure an Escort you pay less. The insurance companies have it all figured out.... Yes, I could sue anyone I want to today but would I get anything probably not and would any compentent attorney take the case. Probably not.... The lawsuit involving the hot coffe from the golden arches netted that elderly lady $10,000.....The rest was eaten up in attorney's fees. Of course, they are going to encourage you to carry insurance it's a source of revenue for them..... Also, if you lost your home, etc you have probably gone into a criminal area and will probably spend time behind bars so you won't have to worry about a roof over your head.. .. TTFN
  13. by   3651bht
    A couple of flaws in your thinking. First you could still lose your license, get fired and lose your home, car etc with or without insurance. Next ask an OB or surgeon what he pays for malpractice insurance. The probability of a lawsuit is proportional to the amount of money you have to pay for it. Also the area where you work. Just as insurance costs more for that Mercedes. If you insure an Escort you pay less. The insurance companies have it all figured out.... Yes, I could sue anyone I want to today but would I get anything probably not and would any compentent attorney take the case. Probably not.... The lawsuit involving the hot coffe from the golden arches netted that elderly lady $10,000.....The rest was eaten up in attorney's fees. Of course, they are going to encourage you to carry insurance it's a source of revenue for them..... Also, if you lost your home, etc you have probably gone into a criminal area and will probably spend time behind bars so you won't have to worry about a roof over your head.. .. TTFN
  14. by   3651bht
    A couple of flaws in your thinking. First you could still lose your license, get fired and lose your home, car etc with or without insurance. Next ask an OB or surgeon what he pays for malpractice insurance. The probability of a lawsuit is proportional to the amount of money you have to pay for it. Also the area where you work. Just as insurance costs more for that Mercedes. If you insure an Escort you pay less. The insurance companies have it all figured out.... Yes, I could sue anyone I want to today but would I get anything probably not and would any compentent attorney take the case. Probably not.... The lawsuit involving the hot coffe from the golden arches netted that elderly lady $10,000.....The rest was eaten up in attorney's fees. Of course, they are going to encourage you to carry insurance it's a source of revenue for them..... Also, if you lost your home, etc you have probably gone into a criminal area and will probably spend time behind bars so you won't have to worry about a roof over your head.. .. TTFN

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