Personal malpractice insurance....yes or no? - page 2

We had this discussion at work the other day. One of the points against it was that lawyers will go for the person(s) with the most malpractice insurance. Also I know, I've been told that the... Read More

  1. by   RNIAM
    This is a really interesting topic. Does anyone have stats on the number of nurse who have been sued per year? It does make sense that a nusre who has been sued and has a judgement against her/him might just as well go bankrupt and then the suit is a waste of time. I am starting my first RN position in a very short time from now and I had planned on getting insurance but now I am not so sure.
  2. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Todd SPN
    I have heard that arguement about if you don't have insurance they won't spend time going after you. I don't buy it. If you own property or have money in the bank it can be taken should they go after you. They can even get a judgement against you and siphon off your future earnings. In a lawsuit the attorney will name everyone involved and worry about who they are going to go after later. You will be served papers that you must fill out describing your net worth. This is the time you need an attorney. Your place of employment is not going to supply you with one. Your insurance company will fight for you as any judgement will come out of your carriers pocket. It is much like not carrying auto insurance and causing an accident. There is no guarantee the injured is going to just say forget about it because you have no insurance. So you pay $100 a year for 1 million worth of insurance. You get an attorney and if you lose and have to pay 1 million it only cost you $100. Sounds like a good deal to me.


    Not true. Pretty much all of this isn't factual.
    Attorneys are not "going after" you. They "go after" the money.
    You are not served papers to fill out your net worth. (Not in my state)
    And, your "place of employment" has already provided you with insurance and the insurance attorneys.
    This is nothing like auto insurance.
    If you have 1 mill in insurance, and you are involved in med/mal/neglect issue... the attorney will DEFINITELY attempt to "go after" your insurance. THAT is how attorneys make money.
  3. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    James, I saw 3 nurses get sued a few years ago. They were VERY seasoned, competent and VERY "friendly", likeable people. Did not matter, however, cause, yes, they were sued individually, as well as the doctor, in this case. Watching what they went through and seeing how LONG the process was, well, it was rather compelling in the argument FOR personal malpractice insurance. I guess I am rather dubious......
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes

    I just do not trust a hospital to look our for my needs should it happen to me. Garnishment of future earnings is a horrible thought since I have years of work ahead of me. Threatening every measly asset my family owns is another. Also, the hospital can and will drop me like a hot freaking potato if they see the risk is not worth defending me. How can anyone argue this? I see the arguments against carrying personal malpractice insurance, and I can understand them. I see both sides. I just am very mistrustful of the hospital to look out for my interests as an employee should, Heaven forbid, I am named in a suit in the future.

    It's hard to predict what may happen in the 20- plus years I have to work in the future, really. Let me say, clearly, whoever believes nurses are not sued, cause they think the patients "like" us, needs to meet these 3 ladies---- two of whom no longer are nurses due to this nightmare.


    Lawsuits costs money. Lots of money. For an attorney to spend $$$ lots of it, to go after a harworking joe, doesn't happen. Attorneys go after INSURANCE money. The big bucks.
    As far as the "hospital dropping you", the hospital doesn't have anything to do with the lawsuit. Their insurance carrier is in charge. The lawyers for the insurance company are doing everything they can to prevent paying insurance money. They want you, and the rest of the staff, to look perfect. They are defending your actions.
    If you have insurance, and are sued, your attorney is doing the same thing... trying to prevent paying any money.
    However, if you have insurance, you will definitely be more involved in the suit, more depositions, more questions, more time, more stress, because of your insurance.
    Keep in mind, Everything is about the money. (I am not saying that a greiving family would be out for money- I am talking about the suit, the process, the attorneys, the defense, etc. The only one NOT concerned about the money is usually the family)
  4. by   ayndim
    But what if you make a mistake and are at fault for a baby having a disability or God forbid dying? Isn't the family entitled to the money it would cost to care for the child.

    What if you worked in another area and you did something that caused the death or severe disability of a families only source of support? Wouldn't you feel like your insurance should cover them? You don't think the hospital will hang you out to dry? I mean the already treat nurses so well so of course they won't cover their own butts and leave a nurse to the wolves.

    And like James said, your hospital's policy is not going to help with a lawyer to defend you to the BON. Just curious, but how would the patient or lawyer know a nurse had malpractice insurance anyway? Is there a registry. I doubt the insurance companies hand over a list to the lawyers of all nurses who have it. I would think they wouldn't want anyone to know.
  5. by   James Huffman
    ayndim, I'll ask you as I've asked others: if you make a mistake, will you immediately compensate for the damage done? Or would you wait for a jury trial? And if you would wait, why would you wait? Why should an attorney get 35-40% of a settlement from your insurance carrier?

    I'm being a bit simplistic, but not too much. We've all made mistakes. And I've yet to see a nurse so idealistic as to, say, sign over her house to the recipient of the mistake.

    Most people simply don't sue. And that's a good thing. But according to this logic, we should maybe voluntarily point out mistakes, claim negligence, and compensate away. If you feel this way, that's cool. But, trust me, your malpractice carrier doesn't feel that way. And if you were ever sued (which -- as I have pointed out -- is a nearly totally hypothetical situation) the insurance company's attorneys would fight very hard to prevent them from having to pay out claims.

    I'm not meaning to pick on you. I feel very strongly for nurses taking responsibility for their own actions. That's one of the reasons I launched an independent practice some 20 years ago. I don't work for a hospital, and I take my own risks. But, folks, this idea that nurses should be doormats who roll over at the slightest mistake ... well, let's just say that Florence has been dead for a while. Maybe we should realize this is 2004, and act like we were living in a real environment, and not some idealistic one.

    Jim Huffman
  6. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from ayndim
    But what if you make a mistake and are at fault for a baby having a disability or God forbid dying? Isn't the family entitled to the money it would cost to care for the child.
    Quote from ayndim

    What if you worked in another area and you did something that caused the death or severe disability of a families only source of support? Wouldn't you feel like your insurance should cover them? You don't think the hospital will hang you out to dry? I mean the already treat nurses so well so of course they won't cover their own butts and leave a nurse to the wolves.


    And like James said, your hospital's policy is not going to help with a lawyer to defend you to the BON. Just curious, but how would the patient or lawyer know a nurse had malpractice insurance anyway? Is there a registry. I doubt the insurance companies hand over a list to the lawyers of all nurses who have it. I would think they wouldn't want anyone to know.


    Do you really think that it is so easy? Just say to your insurance: "I made a mistake, give them a million". Very naive. Yes, they would go through a battle, and by the time they actually received a settlement, the attorneys get most of the $. Many families do not have that feeling of closure after the legal trauma... they just want it over.

    Hospitals do not "hang you out to dry". The facility has nothing to do with the legal battle. The insurance company and their lawyers take over. They will portray you as Florence Nightingale. They want to keep their money, so they work very hard to defend the employees actions- that means you. So, they won't leave you "to the wolves".

    No, there is not a registry. A very simple letter to the opposing council requesting insurance information is how they get their information. The respondant has to provide this information. The intial suit may include many employees names, then the information regarding insurance is obtained.

    Much of the myths come from insurance propoganda. Just look at the nursing magazines, look at the ads. Now, isn't it odd that there doesn't seem to be any info/statistics to be found? Insurance companies are very quick to provide stats when it is beneficial to them. No stats are provided in this case because the insurance companies are getting lots of $$$ and paying out very, very little.
  7. by   ayndim
    Quote from James Huffman
    ayndim, I'll ask you as I've asked others: if you make a mistake, will you immediately compensate for the damage done? Or would you wait for a jury trial? And if you would wait, why would you wait? Why should an attorney get 35-40% of a settlement from your insurance carrier?

    I'm being a bit simplistic, but not too much. We've all made mistakes. And I've yet to see a nurse so idealistic as to, say, sign over her house to the recipient of the mistake.

    Most people simply don't sue. And that's a good thing. But according to this logic, we should maybe voluntarily point out mistakes, claim negligence, and compensate away. If you feel this way, that's cool. But, trust me, your malpractice carrier doesn't feel that way. And if you were ever sued (which -- as I have pointed out -- is a nearly totally hypothetical situation) the insurance company's attorneys would fight very hard to prevent them from having to pay out claims.

    I'm not meaning to pick on you. I feel very strongly for nurses taking responsibility for their own actions. That's one of the reasons I launched an independent practice some 20 years ago. I don't work for a hospital, and I take my own risks. But, folks, this idea that nurses should be doormats who roll over at the slightest mistake ... well, let's just say that Florence has been dead for a while. Maybe we should realize this is 2004, and act like we were living in a real environment, and not some idealistic one.

    Jim Huffman
    I am not talking small mistakes. Of course everyone makes them we are human. I am talking about the mistakes that kill or disable someone.
  8. by   Jolie
    Quote from ayndim
    I am not talking small mistakes. Of course everyone makes them we are human. I am talking about the mistakes that kill or disable someone.

    ayndim,

    I applaud you for being one of the very few participants in this discussion willing to acknowlege and meet your responsibilities to a patient who you may inadvertently injure. Your morals and ethics are above and beyond those of our fellow RNs who are intent on finding ways to avoid such responsibility.

    I am quite sure that those very same people would never allow an uninsured physician to care for themselves or their families. How can we possibly expect to be considered as professionals when we are not willing to take responsibility for our actions (however inadvertent) and provide compensation for patients who have been truly harmed by our actions?
  9. by   CSLee3
    Jim, I am with you here. Before I got into nursing was in legal field, also wife is L & D nurse. First thing the legal team does is an "Asset Search" (I've done them on other people) If you do not have insurance, 2nd home, yatch, airplane, business you are not of much interest. Depending on the state, Texas for example...Cannot garnish wages, retirement, cannot seize homestead, cars ONLY luxuary items (boats, harleys). My wife was named twice in twenty years in L & D and both times she showed up to be deposed, she was dropped from suit after assets were revealed, also, yes most assest are in my name or joint name. I would like the insurance for BON stuff for sure though. Just a tough call and a personal preference. Coencidently the lawyers usually hired to defend nurses or hospitals are usually RN/JD or MD/JD.
    "Rock on fellow nurses"
  10. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    ayndim,
    Quote from Jolie

    I applaud you for being one of the very few participants in this discussion willing to acknowlege and meet your responsibilities to a patient who you may inadvertently injure. Your morals and ethics are above and beyond those of our fellow RNs who are intent on finding ways to avoid such responsibility.

    I am quite sure that those very same people would never allow an uninsured physician to care for themselves or their families. How can we possibly expect to be considered as professionals when we are not willing to take responsibility for our actions (however inadvertent) and provide compensation for patients who have been truly harmed by our actions?


    Don't shoot the messenger. My concern IS my fellow nurses.
  11. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    ayndim,
    Quote from Jolie

    I applaud you for being one of the very few participants in this discussion willing to acknowlege and meet your responsibilities to a patient who you may inadvertently injure. Your morals and ethics are above and beyond those of our fellow RNs who are intent on finding ways to avoid such responsibility.

    I am quite sure that those very same people would never allow an uninsured physician to care for themselves or their families. How can we possibly expect to be considered as professionals when we are not willing to take responsibility for our actions (however inadvertent) and provide compensation for patients who have been truly harmed by our actions?


    Obviously, "Jim" has legal expertise. CSLee has acknowledged legal background, and I have worked for legal firms. Our posts are not about responsibility, they are about the real world, and the workings of the legal field.
  12. by   James Huffman
    Fine. Then I ask my original questions again.

    If you make a mistake, will you immediately compensate for the damage done?

    Or would you wait for a jury trial?

    And if you would wait, why would you wait? Why should an attorney get 35-40% of a settlement from your insurance carrier?

    Jim Huffman
  13. by   ayndim
    Quote from James Huffman
    Fine. Then I ask my original questions again.

    If you make a mistake, will you immediately compensate for the damage done?

    Or would you wait for a jury trial?

    And if you would wait, why would you wait? Why should an attorney get 35-40% of a settlement from your insurance carrier?

    Jim Huffman
    If I had the money I would compensate but since I don't I will carry insurance. Hopefully, they would not drag out a case that was obviously my fault. It would be nice if a pt could go right to the insurance carrier and bypass the attorney. Who in my mind make way too much money off of personal injuries cases of any sort.

    This is my solution to the malpractice rates problem. Every dr, nurse and medical worker in the country puts in X amount into a fund. When someone suffers an injury a panel of 5 drs, 5 nurses and 5 healthcare workers examine the case. They decide if the provider followed the "reasonable and prudent dr/nurse or hc worker" would have done. These people have only one job and that is to sit on this panel and must have X years of experience. If it is decided that the dr/nurse/worker is responsible then a judge would decide the amount. If a dr/nurse/worker has had a judgement against them then their rate is raised, their rate would be 2X, 3X. Obviously, each worker would have different rates according to their risk initially. Nurses generally have lower risk as drs have a greater liability as they are responsible for giving orders and such. After so many judgements and since it is a central database, workers could have privelages taken away (their license) if there is a pattern of problems. Hospitals would also have to contribute. The nurses/workers contribution could be part of the benefits package and would not affect the nurses/workers coverage.

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