Personal malpractice insurance....yes or no?

  1. 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 hospital would back you up if you are following policy. Do you carry a personal policy?

    Beth
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  2. 105 Comments

  3. by   Blackcat99
    I have personal malpractice insurance. The hospitals are looking out for their best interests, not mine.
  4. by   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.
  5. by   palesarah
    I just picked up coverage this week actually. Most of my coworkers (in LDRP) don't have it, they throw out the lawyers will go after you if you have it argument... but some of these same nurses also don't hold any property in their name "just in case". Personally I'd rather have the peace of mind a personal policy provides. I'm a young, new nurse, I've got a good 30+ years of potential wages that could be garnished should a suit be filed and lost.

    It's not about being a good nurse or a bad nurse; you can be the best nurse in the world and still have a case with a bad outcome.
  6. by   Energizer Bunny
    There was a thread on this when I first came here and just about everyone said to get it, so I am...even as a student, I am going to carry my own malpractice insurance. I don't trust ANYONE to back me up and am not willing to lose everything over some imagined slight I may or may not have performed!
  7. by   ivsandy
    i bought private insurance 30 years ago as a student and i continue to renew it to this day. as stated by someone else......your facility will look after them selves big time and you had better look out for your own interests. i highly recommend getting your own private malpractice insurance no matter where you work. as an obgyn nurse i know for sure that everyone wants the healthiest baby and heaven help us if the outcome is less than perfect. i would not want to count on my bosses to bear the cost of saving my butt if things are my fault or not.ob is one practice that is very suit prone. in a country where we can be sued for dentures breaking (for example),don't you think we should do everything in our power to make sure we are covered as much as possible?
  8. by   ayndim
    Quote from bam_bam
    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 hospital would back you up if you are following policy. Do you carry a personal policy?

    Beth
    I will carry it from student nurse to retiree. 1) I don't want to lose my assets in case of a suit. 2) If it is my fault, I want the person to be compensated for care of the child/mother or whoever if I work in another dept.

    I have a better cure for frivolous lawsuits. Cap the lawyers fees. I think they should get 5000 and not a penny more. And if they lose, the lawyers have to pay the dr/nurse or whoever plus the lawyer fees. And the person who brought the suit has to put 10 percent of their earnings for the last year in a fund to help (pick a charity).
  9. by   James Huffman
    Sigh.

    Is $100 (more or less) a good deal if it's not needed?

    If nurses "feel better" having malpractice insurance, buy it. But realize it's simply a form of therapy.

    Remind yourself: nurses just don't get sued very often. Oh, it happens on a very, very rare basis, but the reason it's "so reasonable" (as we are reminded all the time) is simply because it doesn't happen. Statistically speaking, it's not going to happen to you. Ever. Even if you are unfortunate enough to have bought malpractice insurance.

    Attorneys get paid (in almost every such case) a percentage (usually 35-40%) of the final settlement. No attorney in her right mind is going to come after a nurse who doesn't have malpractice insurance because it simply isn't worth it. Why bother? The attorney isn't doing this as a cause: she's hoping to make some money from it.

    Such trials often require months or tedious, expensive preparation. Then there's the trial itself, complete with the attorney having to shell out money for expert witnesses, and other such fees. Don't make yourself inviting to such attorneys. Malpractice insurance is an open invitation.

    As for the fear of garnishing of future wages, let's put this in perspective. Let's say you have a minimal net worth. You're telling me an attorney is going to salivate at the prospect of a judge ordering a garnishment of -- say -- $100 a week -- against your wages for the rest of your life to pay off the -- let's pick a number: $500,000? -- settlement we're hypothetically talking about? What are the chances you as a nurse will sit still for this? What are the odds you will simply declare bankruptcy, and go on with your life? The attorney is no fool. There are other fish to fry.

    Jim Huffman, RN
  10. by   ksfrn66
    I have carried mapractice insurance for my entire 14 yr nursing career. I don't believe it is a frivolous investment. I pay $74/yr for 500,000 per incident and 3 million aggregate. Not only does the policy "CYA" it also provides license protection. I agree with Jim in that a lawsuit is probably not likely, however, what if it did? What if the nurse is found liable? That would be devastating in and of itself, but what if you lost your license for a period of time or forever? Not worth it to me. Another thing, DO NOT trust the fine institution that you are employed by to stick it's neck out for little ol you....they are going to take care of themselves first. There is no respondeat superior like they told us about in school. On the other hand, if you are acting prudently, following policy, and practicing the standard of care you are in much better shape.

    PS I have never been sued or named in a suit.
  11. by   Energizer Bunny
    For the measly <$100/yr. that it costs, I say it's worth it even if you never are named in a lawsuit or even come close to one. For the peace of mind it would bring, it's worth it. The minute that I didn't have it would be when something would probably happen.
  12. by   James Huffman
    ksfrn, I'm glad you have never been sued. Neither have I. :-)

    And that's the point -- statistically, almost no nurses do. Get sued, that is. But we would never know that from the hysterical ads in 'Nursing 2004,' 'RN,' etc.

    I would point out, though: winning a lawsuit does NOT mean that the BON wouldn't institute disciplinary action against a nurse. A BON acts differently than a court of law does, just as there are differing standards in a criminal case (e.g., "Jane Doe, RN, murdered her patient") and a civil case (e.g., "Jane Doe, RN, was negligent in not picking something up on a physical exam," and so was sued).

    As you might have guessed, I don't think it's usually a good idea for nurses to have malpractice insurance. However, for those who want to have it, I STRONGLY encourage them to make sure that the policy covers BON complaints, and will pay for an attorney to represent you there (if your area's BON permits it: some don't).

    In other words, I think malpractice insurance is at best a waste of money, and at worst, it can be dangerous. If it covers BON actions, it's slightly less of a waste of money. :-)

    Jim Huffman
  13. by   Nurse GOODNIGHT
    Great topic was wondering myself. It is required by my school ea semester. They charge us <$30 for it. But when I get out, then what? Am reading this with a lot of interest/fear? Being "more seasoned" and my upteenth degree the first ? I asked when I enrolled in nursing school was how litegious is it. The Dean said, "oh they never sue nurses, 'cause they like you. The more likeable you are, the less likely. Be friendly. " Whatever!! Now that I'm in classes it's get insurance, get insurance, get insurance. Will keep reading.
  14. by   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......

    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.

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