Should I Carry Nursing Malpractice (Liability) Insurance?
Malpractice (liability) insurance is the Nurse’s advocate as it provides essential legal and financial security. Many Nurses go "bare" and never really consider Liability insurance as important. Just as many think, "I'm not a Doctor", or, "I've never known a Nurse to be sued", or, "It costs too much", or, "I'll take my chances; it's too much trouble". For whatever reason you may have, just be sure you are well informed before you make any final decisions about your future.
This question comes up frequently and is asked of me quite often, "should I carry ?"
"What is malpractice?"
Simply put, it is a failure to adhere to a standard of care or conduct by a professional such as a Physician, Nurse, Attorney, etc. Malpractice occurs when it can be proven that the professional had a duty to provide a standard of care/conduct, breached that duty, an injury or damage resulted, and the injury/damage was caused by the breach.
No matter how educated, confident, and careful the Nurse is, unintentional mistakes can and will happen. Accidents will occur. And, unfortunately, willful neglect can be an issue. Injury and death very often are the results of mistakes, accidents, and neglect. Families want to know what happened. Even in the best scenario, the Nurse feels embarrassed and ultimately fears what the damage could do to a perfect professional reputation. Nurses must have the option of protecting their professional reputations and personal assets. Having individual liability insurance is a smart solution.
Nurses will often make the following statement,"My employer covers me so I don't need my own malpractice/liability policy".
All malpractice liability insurance policies have limits of liability. If you are only covered by your employer's insurance, other defendants employed at your entity may and probably do share your liability limits under the same policy. If you, as well as others, are named in a suit, your legal costs, including any settlement, could exceed your employer's shared liability limits. This would mean out-of-pocket expenses for you.
"What type of policy and how much coverage do I need as a Nurse?"
These are questions that are very important when considering a policy.
There are two popular types of policies that are purchased:
- Occurrence-based - any covered incident occurring while the policy is in effect even if the policy is now canceled and/or you have retired
- Claims-made - any covered incident only while the policy is in effect
The cost of a policy is economical and reasonable. For example, the annual premium could cover the first hour billed by Attorney. $1,000,000/$6,000,000 coverage premiums are approximate $100/year in most states for the Registered Nurse (RN) as well as for the Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN).
The following links are sites of interest:
- Affordable Nursing Medical Malpractice Program
- American Nurses Association
- Nurses Service Organization
One major benefit of an individual policy that is often overlooked or taken for granted when considering coverage is license protection. Nurses need to be aware that this will extend beyond their employer's coverage and includes discipline issues that can be brought up by the individual Nurse's Board of Nursing (BON). Many Nurses do not have the financial ability to go against the BON, therefore, license protection is a must.
Another all-important beneficial consideration is that policies normally will include coverage regarding libel, slander and patient confidentiality, including HIPAA issues. These issues can be troublesome and include a great cost for the Nurse.
Finally, a common statement that is incorrect and based on myth is,"Malpractice liability insurance will make me a target and I'll be named in a lawsuit."
So, do you carry your own individual malpractice/liability insurance? In the end, the question of whether or not the Nurse should carry malpractice/liability insurance is a personal one and should be seriously considered.
The peace of mind knowing that you are covered is overwhelming.
The peace of overwhelming reassurance.
Last edit by Joe V on Apr 10, '18
About sirI, MSN, APRN, NP Admin
sirI is an APRN with many years experience as OB-GYN NP - BC, (Emeritus), FNP - BC, and Legal Nurse Consultant. Her specialty areas include OB-GYN, trauma, education, and medical-legal education. She conducts seminars for Nursing Students, Nurses, Residents, and other healthcare providers educating them on how to avoid litigation, assisting them with depositions, and conducting "Mock Trials" where the students are the players in the court proceedings. sirI is an Administrator for allnurses.com.
Joined: Jun '05; Posts: 107,624; Likes: 27,900
MedLeg Consul/Educator/WHNP-FNP; from US
Specialty: 35 year(s) of experience in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OBMay 14, '09One bright spot in my financial year(unemployed but still carrying it) is the fact that mydid not go up this year.May 15, '09That's really interesting, I honestly haven't put much thought into that. So sirI at what point would you recommend that we look into malpractice insurance? I am still a student but I want to be prepared for these kind of things ahead of time.
!ChrisMay 15, '09Excellent advice, sirI! I encourage my students to purchase their own liability insurance upon graduation. (In our program, each student is required to purchase liability insurance at a very inexpensive student rate from a provider that contracts with our college of nursing.)May 15, '09Quote from cjcsoon2brnHello, !ChrisThat's really interesting, I honestly haven't put much thought into that. So sirI at what point would you recommend that we look into malpractice insurance? I am still a student but I want to be prepared for these kind of things ahead of time.
Like VickyRN said, I, too, advise my students to secure personal/individual liability insurance. But, I advise them to purchase while still a student.
With NSO, these rates are around $29 /year for 1,000,000/6,000,000 coverage. It is rare a nursing student is successfully sued, but they are named in lawsuits. It is, as I pointed out, a small fee for peace of mind.May 15, '09This is excellent information to have!
My program briefly discussed malpractice insurance with us, but no one (to the best of my memory) actually made recommendations. My nursing journals always have the NSO insurance application at the front of the magazine, but I honestly never really paid much attention. You can bet I will now. As a matter of fact, I'll complete an app today. It's well worth it not to worry about it.
Thanks again!May 15, '09Smart, donster.
You will receive the same student rates for your 1st year after graduation, too, with NSO.May 15, '09got my nso insurance when i was a student. in our litigious society, the small cost of having nursing malpractice insurance makes it almost a no-brainer.
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