Should I get malpractice insurance NOW!?! - page 2

A certain facility I used to work at is being sued by an atty for a family had a member pass away there. Since it's the facility being sued and not me specifically, should I get malpractice... Read More

  1. by   Jolie
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'll say it again. For those of you who don't carry private liability insurance because you believe that you will be sued only if you HAVE insurance: Don't you feel that you have any moral obligation to compensate a patient should you accidentally cause harm?

    It is entirely possible to practice nursing conscientiously and to the very best of your abilities, yet still make an unfortunate, inadvertent mistake that harms a patient. In that circumstance, do you not have a moral, as well as legal obligation to compensate that patient? Why are you so willing to shrug that responsibility onto your employer, the doctor, and anyone else named in the suit without taking responsibility yourself? If you harm a patient, however unintentionally, doesn't s/he deserve compensation from YOU?

    How can nurses consider themselves professionals when so many are unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions? How many nurses who refuse to carry liability insurance would seek care from a doctor who likewise refused? Probably not many.

    Refusing to carry liability insurance is a personal decision. Just be aware that it has its ramifications. One of which may be a lifetime of garnished wages if a jury decides that an uninsured nurse owes compensation to an injured patient. It is naive to believe that an employer's insurance will look out for the best interests of an individual nurse. It is likewise naive to believe that not having insurance will protect you from lawsuits.
  2. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'll say it again. For those of you who don't carry private liability insurance because you believe that you will be sued only if you HAVE insurance: Don't you feel that you have any moral obligation to compensate a patient should you accidentally cause harm?
    Quote from Jolie

    It is entirely possible to practice nursing conscientiously and to the very best of your abilities, yet still make an unfortunate, inadvertent mistake that harms a patient. In that circumstance, do you not have a moral, as well as legal obligation to compensate that patient? Why are you so willing to shrug that responsibility onto your employer, the doctor, and anyone else named in the suit without taking responsibility yourself? If you harm a patient, however unintentionally, doesn't s/he deserve compensation from YOU?

    How can nurses consider themselves professionals when so many are unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions? How many nurses who refuse to carry liability insurance would seek care from a doctor who likewise refused? Probably not many.

    Refusing to carry liability insurance is a personal decision. Just be aware that it has its ramifications. One of which may be a lifetime of garnished wages if a jury decides that an uninsured nurse owes compensation to an injured patient. It is naive to believe that an employer's insurance will look out for the best interests of an individual nurse. It is likewise naive to believe that not having insurance will protect you from lawsuits.


    Being willing to take responsibility for your own actions is a very different issue from malpractice insurance.
    As far as being naive- who do you think the insurance covers? the door? the front step? No, it covers employees actions. You are better protected from lawsuits by not having insurance than having it.
    It costs too much to sue an individual. People cannot afford to sue, it is expensive. The lawyer wouldn't take home much.
    That is why I am asking: who actually know someone who has lost their home? their job? garnished wages? No one I have ever spoken to has even heard of such a thing.
    It isn't feasible to go after the "working joe". Doesn't happen.
    A myth. misinformation.

    Jury? no way. Only 3% of all lawsuits actually make it to a court room. The cost to attorneys is fantastic. It isn't a tv show. Very different. The opposing side can stretch it out for years. $$$$$. Lawyer isn't going to do that for principle- or because he might be able to get a couple of hundred dollars a month from poor working nurse. A judge isn't going to take away your ability to make a living.
    This is all very naive.
    Again, not against nurses, only against the large, rich organized propoganda machine that continues to feed the wealthy, and take from the working nurse.
    Last edit by mscsrjhm on Jun 30, '04
  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    Nonetheless, $89/year is pretty cheap for my peace of mind, imagined or not. Paying my annual premiums online tonight.
  4. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Nurse Ratched
    Nonetheless, $89/year is pretty cheap for my peace of mind, imagined or not. Paying my annual premiums online tonight.



    So, if every nurse is paying 90$ a year for a mythical threat... this is what I am talking about. Billions of dollars from hardworking people. What a great racket.
  5. by   Katnip
    I agree. And though rare, you can be the sole person named in a suit in the hospital or any aid you may render outside of your job. Good Samaritan laws rarely cover a professional caregiver.

    That few bucks a year is a small price to pay for that peace of mind, whether it's a lawsuit or a threat to your license.
  6. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from cyberkat
    I agree. And though rare, you can be the sole person named in a suit in the hospital or any aid you may render outside of your job. Good Samaritan laws rarely cover a professional caregiver.

    That few bucks a year is a small price to pay for that peace of mind, whether it's a lawsuit or a threat to your license.
    Such a rarity..... do we carry meteorite insurance?
    Again, my anger is at the misinformation perpertated by the $$$ for the $$$ to get the $$$.
  7. by   Jolie
    Quote from Mschrisco

    Being willing to take responsibility for your own actions is a very different issue from malpractice insurance.
    As far as being naive- who do you think the insurance covers? the door? the front step? No, it covers employees actions. You are better protected from lawsuits by not having insurance than having it.
    It costs too much to sue an individual. People cannot afford to sue, it is expensive. The lawyer wouldn't take home much.
    That is why I am asking: who actually know someone who has lost their home? their job? garnished wages? No one I have ever spoken to has even heard of such a thing.
    It isn't feasible to go after the "working joe". Doesn't happen.
    A myth. misinformation.

    Jury? no way. Only 3% of all lawsuits actually make it to a court room. The cost to attorneys is fantastic. It isn't a tv show. Very different. The opposing side can stretch it out for years. $$$$$. Lawyer isn't going to do that for principle- or because he might be able to get a couple of hundred dollars a month from poor working nurse. A judge isn't going to take away your ability to make a living.
    This is all very naive.
    Again, not against nurses, only against the large, rich organized propoganda machine that continues to feed the wealthy, and take from the working nurse.
    "Being willing to take responsibility for your own actions is a very different issue from malpractive insurance." "A judge isn't going to take away your ability to make a living."


    Now, please explain to me just how you are going to take responsibility for your actions if you harm a patient, when you have no insurance and you are certain that a judge won't garnish your wages.

    Let's just say that you confuse my medication with that of another patient, and inadvertently administer PCN to me, (despite my chart being clearly labeled with a PCN allergy alert), causing a severe allergic reaction leading to respiratory failure and brain damage. I am no longer able to work to support myself, and I now need assistance with daily living. You are clearly at fault. The physician did not order PCN. The pharmacy did not place PCN in my med drawer. You mistakenly gave me a med labeled for another patient. No other nurse, doctor or staff member was involved. My family files suit against the hospital and you. The hospital throws you to the wolves, because you clearly did not follow hospital policy in administering medication. Had you checked the "5 Rights" of medication administration as per hospital policy and procedure, you would have never given me the med. Had you asked a second nurse or pharmacist to double-check your IV meds, as is recommended by standards of nursing practice, your error would have been caught prior to giving the med. So, you may have to defend yourself in a court of law, and defend your license before the State BON. That will be costly, especially since it is unlikely that the hospital will allow you to work pending the outcome of their investigation of the incident.

    The hospital, under the principle of "Respondeat Superior" (sp?) may be held partially responsible for your error, resulting in a settlement or jury award in my favor, but how are YOU, the person responsible for my current condition, going to take responsibility for your error? Without insurance, my hope of a monetary settlement intended for my future care and living expenses is very limited. Even if your wages are garnished, any financial support I receive may be years in coming. So, instead of being able to afford the care I need to live to my fullest potential, I will be forced into a substandard lifestyle. That is hardly fair, considering that I was the innocent patient.

    So, just how are you going to "take responsibility for your own actions"?

    Or do I just get scr**ed while you go on with your life as a "professional"?
  8. by   Jolie
    Mschrisco,

    Just curious. Do you carry auto and homeowner's insurance? If so, why?
  9. by   James Huffman
    Jolie asks: "Don't you feel that you have any moral obligation to compensate a patient should you accidentally cause harm?"

    A very good question, Jolie. But if you harm someone (accidentally) are you going to volunteer to compensate them? Or would you wait for a jury judgement? And if so, why?

    Jim Huffman, RN
  10. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    "Being willing to take responsibility for your own actions is a very different issue from malpractive insurance." "A judge isn't going to take away your ability to make a living."
    Quote from Jolie


    Now, please explain to me just how you are going to take responsibility for your actions if you harm a patient, when you have no insurance and you are certain that a judge won't garnish your wages.

    Let's just say that you confuse my medication with that of another patient, and inadvertently administer PCN to me, (despite my chart being clearly labeled with a PCN allergy alert), causing a severe allergic reaction leading to respiratory failure and brain damage. I am no longer able to work to support myself, and I now need assistance with daily living. You are clearly at fault. The physician did not order PCN. The pharmacy did not place PCN in my med drawer. You mistakenly gave me a med labeled for another patient. No other nurse, doctor or staff member was involved. My family files suit against the hospital and you. The hospital throws you to the wolves, because you clearly did not follow hospital policy in administering medication. Had you checked the "5 Rights" of medication administration as per hospital policy and procedure, you would have never given me the med. Had you asked a second nurse or pharmacist to double-check your IV meds, as is recommended by standards of nursing practice, your error would have been caught prior to giving the med. So, you may have to defend yourself in a court of law, and defend your license before the State BON. That will be costly, especially since it is unlikely that the hospital will allow you to work pending the outcome of their investigation of the incident.

    The hospital, under the principle of "Respondeat Superior" (sp?) may be held partially responsible for your error, resulting in a settlement or jury award in my favor, but how are YOU, the person responsible for my current condition, going to take responsibility for your error? Without insurance, my hope of a monetary settlement intended for my future care and living expenses is very limited. Even if your wages are garnished, any financial support I receive may be years in coming. So, instead of being able to afford the care I need to live to my fullest potential, I will be forced into a substandard lifestyle. That is hardly fair, considering that I was the innocent patient.

    Or do I just get scr**ed while you go on with your life as a "professional"?



    Where to start:
    Okay, I mistakenly gave you PCN, causing brain damage. I have been a sincere, hard working nurse, my record shows this.
    Your family files suit, the facilities insurance attorneys take over, med records obtained and sent to nurse consultants, expert witnesses, Physicians, etc. Depositions. The insurance attorneys are working on a defense.
    $$$, more depositions, $$$ more time, $$$ motions, $$$... etc
    Since there was NO intentional wrongdoing, punitive damages are debatable.
    Then.... after years... a settlement offer.. The insurance settles with the family.
    The family's attorney was obtained via contingency fee: 40%.
    settlement was 1 mill. minus costs ($$$$$) minus 40% to attorney, minus taxes.
    I made a mistake. Unfortunate. I would be devastated. But, it was not intentional.
    This is why facilities carry insurance. Mandatory.
    No attorney is going to go after me, individually. They would have to put too much $$$ into the case, with no absolute of obtaining any of their investment back.

    So, in the same vein, should an auto mechanic individually carry insurance in case the brakes he worked on failed? (Of course you sue the shop- he is an employee- just like we are)

    Should the individual worker at the pharmaceutical factory carry his/her own insurance, in case they make a mistake that costs lifes?

    Firefighter? in case they improperly perform their job? Police? (no way).

    By your thinking, they are not taking responsiblity for their actions.
  11. by   Jolie
    Quote from James Huffman
    Jolie asks: "Don't you feel that you have any moral obligation to compensate a patient should you accidentally cause harm?"

    A very good question, Jolie. But if you harm someone (accidentally) are you going to volunteer to compensate them? Or would you wait for a jury judgement? And if so, why?

    Jim Huffman, RN

    I would wait for a jury award. I don't personally have the resources to make a settlement to a patient, and would have to rely on my insurance to do so for me, which would not occur until a settlement or jury award is made. Unfortunately, that takes time, and the patient would likely suffer financial problems in the meantime. That would weigh heavily on my conscience.

    What bothers me about Mschrisco's posts is that s/he seems to acknowlege that a nurse who causes harm to a patient has some obligation to that patient, but fails to indicate how that responsibility will be met. Indeed, the poster seems rather flip about discussing ways to avoid that responsibility. Almost like the cop didn't catch me speeding, so I'm off the hook. I find that disturbing and highly unprofessional.
  12. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    What bothers me about Mschrisco's posts is that s/he seems to acknowlege that a nurse who causes harm to a patient has some obligation to that patient, but fails to indicate how that responsibility will be met. Indeed, the poster seems rather flip about discussing ways to avoid that responsibility. Almost like the cop didn't catch me speeding, so I'm off the hook. I find that disturbing and highly unprofessional.
    And the firefighter? policeman? auto mechanic? pharmacist?
    Shouldn't they be responsible if they make a mistake that harms someone?
    I am not anti-responsibility. I am anti-mis-information and anti-propoganda, not to mention anti-myth.
    People must take off their rose-colored glasses when it comes to the legal system. You don't run your case..the attorney runs it. Defense lawyers will do ANYTHING to defend their client.. that is how they make money. A mistake isn't simply a mistake, it involves many, many levels, which requires much time, and major money.
  13. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    I would wait for a jury award. I don't personally have the resources to make a settlement to a patient, and would have to rely on my insurance to do so for me, which would not occur until a settlement or jury award is made. Unfortunately, that takes time, and the patient would likely suffer financial problems in the meantime. That would weigh heavily on my conscience.
    Quote from Jolie


    Jolie, most civil suits are settled. Like 3 percent go to court. And many of those are booted out very quickly by the judge. If you do not have resources to give, then you sure won't be paying an attorney for a "jury" result.
    If you do not have insurance, then the attorney will not "go after" you. NO MONEY IN IT.
    To walk up to a family member and say "I am sorry.. I made a mistake.. because of my mistake, you family member is brain damaged. What can I do to help you?" A lovely, rosey, honest picture. What would be the results?

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