Malpractice Insurance: Having your own policy is a NECESSITY - page 3

New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) REPORT: April 2003 Malpractice Insurance: Having your own policy is a NECESSITY! by Mark Genovese You may never have to use a professional liability... Read More

  1. by   tddowney
    Quote from -jt
    Its a myth to think that if you dont have malpractice insurance, you wont be sued. You can be sued anyway, whether you have insurance or not, and then lose your house & assests if you have any, or a good portion of any future earnings paying off what the inexpensive insurance would have covered for you. As the article points out:

    If you have any connection with a patient who makes a claim against your employer, you will most likely be named a party to the suit. You can even be sued in a circumstance where you contend you have not had contact with a patient who makes a claim against your employer.

    A lawyer for an injured plaintiff normally will sue everyone connected with a malpractice incident. If the lawyer doesn't sue everyone connected - whether they have insurance or not, the client may then sue the lawyer for legal malpractice.

    Faced with that option, the lawyer is going to go after everyone involved, insurance or not.

    A big problem with our tort system is that plaintiffs have a free shot at suing everyone, and pay no penalty when they are wrong. Just as a nurse will end up paying the legal fees of the injured party if he is found liable for an injury, the plaintiff should always pay the nurse's legal fees if the verdict is in favor of the nurse.
  2. by   DeLana_RN
    Quote from plumrn
    I had to give a deposition in a suit that I was not named in, but did care for the pt at one point. One of the 1st things my facility's lawyers asked was, "Who has their own liability insurance?"

    The lawyer said that if the plaintiff lawyer asks, we have to tell them if we do, or do not have insurance. He said he hoped they would not ask. I did have insurance, and they did not ask me, but they did ask everyone else during their deposition.

    I have a fear that if you have insurance, they will scrutinize your charting, and do whatever they can to find something they can twist to make you look guilty to a jury- the millions your insurance promises, would be all they might go after.

    Of course, I know all the reasons it makes since to have insurance, and I have already planned to purchase it again, but is their some truth to the above?
    You are no more (or less) likely to get sued whether or not you have your own policy (which every practicing nurse needs to have!) Your charting will get no more scrutiny than anybody else's; if you were directly involved in the incident (if there is one - they might just allege negligent care against everyone, but will have to prove it), they will go after you - and if you don't have your own insurance, that means your house* and other assets. Also, how will you pay for your own attorney without insurance? Your company's legal plan (if you have one) will not cover you in a case involving your employer (i.e., codefendent); and don't rely on your employer's lawyers! There is a clear conflict of interest (you are "the enemy" if you might cause your employer to have to pay big $$$ So why would they defend you?!).

    So why would they ask in a deposition who has their own insurance? Probably just so they can notify your carrier and include them in the lawsuit (however, you should have already notified them anyway!!)

    Also, at the time that the lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff's lawyer typically does not know who has insurance; everyone will be included regardless. Of course, the deep pocket (i.e., the hospital or employer) is what they are really after; but this does not mean that anyone else possibly involved will be overlooked.

    So get your insurance, and always chart as if you could get sued! This will be your best protection. BTW, even if your employers carries insurance for their RNs, don't think they will be looking out for you - oh, no, if it comes down to it you will be sacrificed (i.e., named the scapegoat). Why risk it? A policy is no more than about $100-130 per year for most nurses and (IMO) an absolute necessity.

    HTH.

    DeLana

    *Some states exempt your primary residence, however.
  3. by   DeLana_RN
    Quote from WitchyRN
    Funny, but I had orientation this week and earlier this week someone had posted that their risk management person advised against malpractice insurance. Guess what, so did the woman who talked to us!!:angryfire We have several new grads so I feel that what she said was damaging. She gave us the old line that we were more likely to be sued if we had our own insurance, that the hospital would never hang us out to dry..blah blah blah...When we went to lunch, I made sure to correct the erroneous info she gave out. I'm such a troublemaker!! I also gave out the number for NSO.(that's what I have)
    I can't believe this misinformations is still being told - it's criminal! New grads may not know any better (no excuses for seasoned nurses, though )

    I remember the evil head nurse in my first job (no exaggeration) told me something similar - and that she had no insurance of her own. All I can say - if what goes around truly comes around, she will lose everything she has (which wouldn't break my heart - sorry, but you would not believe what she did to me).

    DeLana
  4. by   mscsrjhm
    Gotta say it....I dont recommend insurance.
    Having worked for med/mal/negligence attorneys, I found out very quickly that there are many great misconceptions, and these misconceptions are what keep insurance co and lawyers wealthy.
    Do some research.
    Things are not as they appear.
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from DeLana_RN
    All I can say - if what goes around truly comes around, she will lose everything she has (which wouldn't break my heart - sorry, but you would not believe what she did to me).
    Oh, yeah, I would.

  6. by   DeLana_RN
    Quote from Mschrisco
    Gotta say it....I dont recommend insurance.
    Having worked for med/mal/negligence attorneys, I found out very quickly that there are many great misconceptions, and these misconceptions are what keep insurance co and lawyers wealthy.
    Do some research.
    Things are not as they appear.
    Can you be more specific? Why should we not get insurance?

    All my research revealed the need to have our own insurance.

    DeLana
  7. by   PHM
    Interesting thread.

    I also researched this years ago and received a reply from a Chicago paralegal who's worked both sides of the fence (defending hospitals and staff vs working for malpractice attorneys). With over 25 years of experience, he made some good points regarding liability insurance. Mentioned, in his own practice, hospital insurance did indeed cover virtually all the defendants, in fact, couldn't recall a specific example where it did not. He also said he did not know of any cases where an attorney specifically targeted those with liability policies but admitted this was entirely possible.

    Went on to illustrate a possible example where in a conflict of interest, you would be at a distinct disadvantage as the hospital's attorneys might bias their services to the protection of the hospital over you. Of course a personal liability policy would be of benefit, and the relatively low cost of the premium makes it easily available.

    One point I specifically remember was how important it was to maintain your policy EVEN IF YOU LEAVE NURSING for at least 3 years. Doing so would take you beyond the statute of limitations for malpractice lawsuits just in case you're sued after you quit nursing. Policies won't cover you if you no longer have an active policy regardless of when the incident actually occurred. Scary.

    My two cents . . .get a policy through NSO for $100, or so and sleep peacefully at night.

    Phil
    Last edit by PHM on Aug 11, '07
  8. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from DeLana_RN
    Can you be more specific? Why should we not get insurance?

    All my research revealed the need to have our own insurance.

    DeLana
    You are covered by the facility insurance policy. If you are named in a civil action, it will be along with the facility, and as an employee of the facility.
    Attorneys do not "go after" the average working joe- they would lose money. The insurance companies have the $$.
    Your malpractice insurance company's lawyers are not working for you ("on your side",) they are on the insurance company's side.
    No one is going to fight for your innocence...it is all a big game of money and bedfellows. It is about the money.
    Most people experience auto and homeowners insurance, and this is totally different. Researching is tricky due to the $$ and propaganda from insurance companies.
    Think about how involved malpractice companies are with student nursing organizations or with the schools themselves. Hasn't anyone ever questioned this?

    However, if it makes a person sleep better, it may be worth the money-
    As for me, no.
    Last edit by mscsrjhm on Aug 12, '07
  9. by   mamalle
    Interesting topic that we actually discussed yesterday morning coming on shift with the night nurses. all of them agreed about no malpractice insurance. They said they same thing as you. I was surprised since all of them have been there 15 years plus. I have been there 8 years and wondering if I should pick it up with all of the staffing issues that we are having in the er, etc..
  10. by   Tweety
    Quote from Mschrisco
    You are covered by the facility insurance policy. If you are named in a civil action, it will be along with the facility, and as an employee of the facility.
    Attorneys do not "go after" the average working joe- they would lose money. The insurance companies have the $$.
    Your malpractice insurance company's lawyers are not working for you ("on your side",) they are on the insurance company's side.
    No one is going to fight for your innocence...it is all a big game of money and bedfellows. It is about the money.
    Most people experience auto and homeowners insurance, and this is totally different. Researching is tricky due to the $$ and propaganda from insurance companies.
    Think about how involved malpractice companies are with student nursing organizations or with the schools themselves. Hasn't anyone ever questioned this?

    However, if it makes a person sleep better, it may be worth the money-
    As for me, no.

    That does kind of make sense. I would think though that in trying to save the insurance company money they would have to be on the nurses side and not the side of the one doing the suing.

    But the point is not lost that the hospital's attorneys are representing the hospital and the malpractice lawyers are picked by the insurance company to save them money.
  11. by   Sheri257
    Just because you have malpractice insurance doesn't mean you're more likely to be sued. If that was true, then the premiums would be a hellava lot higher than they are now.

    $100 a year is dirt cheap. The reason that the premiums are so cheap is because nurses are generally great liability risks.

    BUT ... the real risk to worry about is the state where you live. That's where the real liability risk lies.

    In Texas, for example, the premiums are triple the amount of other states and the insurance companies greatly limit the coverage there also.

    So that tells me the insurance companies are paying more claims for nurses in Texas than other states.

    Same for NP's in Florida ... their premiums are much higher and the coverage is much more limited than other states because the insurance companies have had to pay more claims for NP's there.

    If you're worried about being sued, that's what you should be looking at ... are the premiums higher than average and is the coverage more limited where you live than other states ...

    Because the insurance companies know more than your co-workers or anybody else. Afterall ... they're the ones who are actually paying out the claims.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Aug 12, '07
  12. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Tweety
    That does kind of make sense. I would think though that in trying to save the insurance company money they would have to be on the nurses side and not the side of the one doing the suing.

    But the point is not lost that the hospital's attorneys are representing the hospital and the malpractice lawyers are picked by the insurance company to save them money.
    The hospital's attorneys don't have anything (much) to do with the legal action (except maybe to the media). The hospital's insurance carrier has the attorneys that deal with those legal issues.
    I think that nurses get a little confused about who represents who.
    When a facility is sued, and insurance attorneys are called in, those attorneys are representing the facility...YOU ARE THE FACILITY. The actions of the employees are what is being questioned. So, they are representing the employees.
    The facility doesn't keep attorneys that defend them against legal actions. The insurance company keep those high paid attorneys.
    When nurses say "I want an attorney on my side"- to get that you would have to pay out of pocket-. Your individual insurance carrier provides attorneys, yes, but those attorneys are there representing the insurance company. They do want to minimize the $$ by diminishing your guilt, or diminishing the damages, but ultimately, the attorneys all work together to work out a settlement.
    Very few civil actions go to trial. It is too expensive, and many judges wouldn't allow it even if the parties wanted to. (Yes-this happens- judges inform attorneys for all parties "get it off my docket".)
    I think it ranges between 4% and 6% that actually go to court.
    Last edit by mscsrjhm on Aug 12, '07
  13. by   GadgetRN71
    What it comes down to for me is this: Do I trust my employer(or ANY employer) these days not to screw me over? The answer for me is no...I think the insurance is worth it because it provides a lawyer for you if you get sued, defends you if you have to deal with the BON etc. I know several LNCs (legal nurse consultants, for those who don't know)and all of them recommend your own policy..The hospitals like to discourage you because when you have your own policy, they are not in complete control of the whole situation.
    People are so litigious these days, they will go after anyone-nurses included. I've witnessed it firsthand and it made such an impression. This nurse also got sued by the hospital afterward. The cost comes out to less than 10.00 a month-completely worth it to me. PS. My policy covers some of the cost of a lawyer which to me is better than putting myself at the mercy of the hospital.
    Last edit by GadgetRN71 on Aug 12, '07

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