Should I get malpractice insurance NOW!?! - page 3

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
    Quote from Mschrisco
    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.
    So why should anyone be responsible to anyone for anything? If your doctor makes an error which causes you or a family member to become disabled will you ask him/her for an apology and let it go at that? Will you fend for your finanical needs on your own? Not likely, but that's exactly the situation you'll leave your patient in. Highly disturbing and unprofessional, in my mind. But not surprising, given the society in which we live where no one seems to take responsibility for his own actions.

    So do you carry auto and home owner's insurance? If so, why? If someone were to accidentally rear-end your car, would you accept an apology and fix it yourself? Or would you expect them to live up to their responsibility and pay for your repairs? If you were to accidentally hit someone, would you fill out a police report and file an insuracne claim in order to repair their car? Or would you look for someone else on whom to place the blame? Or leave the injured party to fend for himself? Not much different from our hypothetical liability situation.
  2. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    So why should anyone be responsible to anyone for anything? If your doctor makes an error which causes you or a family member to become disabled will you ask him/her for an apology and let it go at that? Will you fend for your finanical needs on your own? Not likely, but that's exactly the situation you'll leave your patient in. Highly disturbing and unprofessional, in my mind. But not surprising, given the society in which we live where no
    Quote from Jolie
    one seems to take responsibility for his own actions.

    So do you carry auto and home owner's insurance? If so, why? If someone were to accidentally rear-end your car, would you accept an apology and fix it yourself? Or would you expect them to live up to their responsibility and pay for your repairs? If you were to accidentally hit someone, would you fill out a police report and file an insuracne claim in order to repair their car? Or would you look for someone else on whom to place the blame? Or leave the injured party to fend for himself? Not much different from our hypothetical liability situation.


    Very different. auto and home are possessions. We are discussing malpractice insurance.
    Your employer carries insurance. How many other professions require/request/suggest that the employees carry additional insurance.
    Many professions can effect humans adversely. Those people are not requested to carry insurance.
  3. by   Jolie
    Quote from Mschrisco

    Very different. auto and home are possessions. We are discussing malpractice insurance.
    Your employer carries insurance. How many other professions require/request/suggest that the employees carry additional insurance.
    Many professions can effect humans adversely. Those people are not requested to carry insurance.

    No, not different at all. We are talking about taking responsibility for our actions and the impact they have on others. Responsibility that I suspect you expect of your physician, attorney, and other professionals on whom you rely. Yet you are not willing to provide it to those who rely on you. Your arguments that 1.) Attorneys will only file suit against you if you have insurance, and 2.) Police officers and firefighters don't carry insurance, so why should I? don't hold water. They fail to support a lack of responsibility to your patients. They only illustrate your willingness to shirk that responsibility.

    I guess we need to agree to disagree.
  4. by   rainbows4me
    Not wanting to enter into the heated side of this debate, but as a new grad, I've found both sides of the discussion very persuasive - and if nothing else, mschris has provided me with food for thought regarding my decision to take or not take insurance. Everyone in school told me "don't be stupid, take out insurance" and yet when I think about it, some great points are being made.

    One thought I have that stands out in my mind is how the cost of insurance generally relates to the need for it: Auto insurance is costly - around $1000/year where I live - and I've never needed to use it. Obviously, other people use it, or it wouldn't cost nearly as much as it does. Life insurance is cheap when you're young (and unlikely to die), but try getting it when you're 60 and a smoker (!). Using the same reasoning - $80-90/year for malpractice insurance - it must not be used very often. Insurance companies are in the business of insurance for the money and they make sure when establishing their rates that they're going to make a bunch of it. So... while I'm not saying I won't take out that policy (I likely will), based on the amount they charge for it, I'd say I have as much chance winning the lottery or being struck by lightening as using that policy.

    Thanks for the discussion!
  5. by   rainbows4me
    I'm curious how the legal/insurance debate changes when you have a large state-owned facility? I am friends with someone who has a child who now has CP because of an horrific malpractice incident when he was an infant. The facility this occurred at had some sort of malpractice cap - perhaps they were self-insured or state-owned or something? Anyway - when relating the lawsuit story to me, I was told that they had to find someone involved who had decent insurance to get the money they needed for their child - and this person ended up being an employee with private malpractice insurance. Are there times when the facility can not be sued - where the employee is singled out for that reason?

    Another point to ponder in this discussion...

    Thanks!
  6. by   Nurse GOODNIGHT
    sorry posted wrong thread
    earlier
    Last edit by Nurse GOODNIGHT on Jul 1, '04
  7. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from rainbows4me
    I'm curious how the legal/insurance debate changes when you have a large state-owned facility? I am friends with someone who has a child who now has CP because of an horrific malpractice incident when he was an infant. The facility this occurred at had some sort of malpractice cap - perhaps they were self-insured or state-owned or something? Anyway - when relating the lawsuit story to me, I was told that they had to find someone involved who had decent insurance to get the money they needed for their child - and this person ended up being an employee with private malpractice insurance. Are there times when the facility can not be sued - where the employee is singled out for that reason?
    Quote from rainbows4me

    Another point to ponder in this discussion...

    Thanks!


    Yes!!! That is obviously an attorney talking, saying "decent insurance to get the money".
    Attorneys cannot afford lawsuits unless there is big, big insurance $$$. I have watched the attorneys I worked for get very excited when more than one nurse had malpractice insurance.
    They will probably sue the facility and the employee, then later drop the facility when they have enough info.
    This is a perfect example of why I don't carry insurance.
  8. by   James Huffman
    Folks, an article from my blog, which seems pertinent to the discussion at hand:

    Nurses worry about malpractice lawsuits all the time. But I can say with great assurance that you will never get sued. How do I know? Because, for example, I know that you will not get hit by lightning this afternoon. That doesn't mean that some people won't get sued, and that somewhere on earth, someone will not get hit by lightning. But not you. And not on either of them.

    Nurses almost never get sued. Now, you would never know that from the grim ads for malpractice insurance. But it is a fact that even the ads tell you. Open your latest copy of AJN or Nursing or whatever journal you happen to have sitting around. Or do an internet search for malpractice insurance. How much do they say they are charging for malpractice insurance? If you are like 99% of all nurses, your coverage will be under $100 a year.

    Insurance companies operate on what is called the law of large numbers. For instance, life insurance. If I take a random group of 37 year old women, an insurance company knows that a certain number of those women will die in the following year. They don't know which ones will die. Nor do they know how they will die. But they know that a certain number will die during that year. And on that basis, they set the premiums for the life insurance for 37 year old women.

    Likewise malpractice insurance. They know that -- statistically speaking -- you are not going to get sued this year. Or any year, for that matter. So, despite the fear tactics of the ads, begin with the realization that you are not going to get sued. Not now. Not ever.

    In reality, a complaint against you at your state board of nursing is a much bigger risk. And the hints I'm giving here will help inoculate you against that possibility, too. All of these work. They will make you popular with patients, and loved by your co-workers. So read on.

    Hint # 1: Be a nice person. If you want to make it "be a nice nurse," that will work, too. But, be nice. Be pleasant to be around. Be agreeable. Be friendly. I'm not suggesting you be a doormat. Nor am I suggesting that you not stand up for yourself. But think of it this way: do you think a patient or family is going to sue you if you are a pleasant, kind person? Maybe. But they are far more likely to sue you if you are a jerk. Unpleasant. Obnoxious. Rude. So be nice.

    Hint # 2: Be honest. Don't make promises you can't keep. And when you make a mistake, admit it. Promptly. The reason for this is that when we lie, we send off signals that something's not right. And most people can spot that a mile away. See hint # 1: if you are honest and forthcoming with patients and family, they are more inclined to like you, and far less inclined to sue. A surgeon (true story) was operating and by some horrible accident, cut the aorta. The patient -- in what was a relatively uncomplicated surgery -- died rather quickly. The whole thing was over in minutes, and the surgeon just knew he was dead, too. At least in a professional sense. He went to a phone, called his attorney, and asked what he should do. "What do you look like now?," the attorney asked him. He described himself: still in scrubs, and covered with blood. "Then go out there exactly as you are, and tell the family what happened. Go now. Admit that you made an awful mistake." And he did just that. Was the family horrified? Of course. Did the surgeon make a mistake? You bet. And did they sue? No. Now they might have been the types who would not have sued anyway. But they certainly had grounds to sue. And sometimes simple honesty will defuse someone who wants to sue.

    Hint # 3: Be open. Closely related to hint # 2. Make it a point of being available and easy to reach, both in a physical sense, and in a psychological sense. If something doesn't make sense, say so. If you don't understand something, tell the patient. And if -- by some amazing chance -- you don't have all the answers, tell the patient that, and say that you will find someone who does have the answers. And do it. (See hint # 2).

    Hint # 4: Be accessible. Don't hide from your patients. Don't avoid them. Again, I'm not suggesting that you be there for them 24 hours a day. But when you are there, be there. And if you have other patients to care for, invoke hint # 2: tell your patient honestly that you have other patients at the moment, but you will be back with them in 30 minutes. Or whatever.

    I could suggest that you keep up to date professionally, and not do things that you are not competent to do. But you knew that already, didn't you? And besides, those are both included in hint # 2. Be honest with yourself. Know what you can do, and do it. Know what you can't do, and don't do it. At the same time, don't be paralyzed by fear. If you know how to do something, and are qualified to do it, don't be afraid to do it. Fear is an amazing thing. It will keep you from doing all kinds of wonderful things. So feel the fear. And do what you know you need to do anyway.

    Hint # 5 is a controversial one, and I will get hate mail over it, but here goes: Cancel your malpractice insurance. Or don't take it out in the first place. Or just let it expire when it comes up for renewal. Because malpractice insurance makes you an easy target.

    Let's say, for example, that you have done all of the above. Nice, honest, open, and accessible. And let's say you work for a hospital, and you're called to float one day to another unit. There's a patient in bad shape, on every 15 minute vitals, and she's not your patient, but her nurse takes a break, and you assess the patient as a favor. And your name goes on the chart. An hour later, the patient codes and dies. Something goes wrong. Terribly wrong. The family sues. If their attorney is worth his salt, he will go over the patient records in great and careful detail. Often, the attorney will put down every name that occurs in the chart, on the assumption that all might have had something to do with the death.

    You get called in for a deposition. Even if you had nothing to do with the problem. And you volunteer that, well, you have nothing to worry about, you have malpractice insurance. Suddenly, you notice that they have a great deal more interest in you.

    Why? Because you have suddenly acquired big pockets. An insurance company is there with a potential for lots of money. Lots.

    Now that is not quite as important for the person suing (the plaintiff) as it is for the lawyer. Because in most malpractice suits, the plaintiff puts up no money up front. Instead, the lawyer opts to take a percentage -- usually something like 30% -- of the money won in the lawsuit.

    This serves several good purposes. The lawyer has a good reason to avoid frivolous lawsuits because she could very possibly make nothing at all (if the jury or judge finds that the nurse was not negligent), despite weeks or months of work. A plaintiff can also sue without having to put up money up front.

    It also means that lawyers tend not to go after people who have very little money. And let's imagine that you are like most people. You drive a several-years-old car. You own a house, but the banks owns a great deal more of it than you do. You have several credit cards with large balances. You live from paycheck to paycheck. In other words, you don't have a lot of cash around. And let's imagine that you did something really wrong, and get sued. Suppose the jury found for the plaintiff, and ordered you to pay them $500,000. Where are you going to get the money? If you're like most people, you're going to declare bankruptcy. Relatively easy, relatively fast, and you no longer owe $500,000. And the lawyer gets no money, or very little. Neither does the plaintiff. End of story.

    Unless you have malpractice insurance. In which case, your insurance company will cut a check to the lawyer for $500,000, and the person suing will get about $350,000, more or less.

    And how would you have avoided the time, hassle, and embarrassment of a malpractice trial? (If you live in a small city -- say, less than 250,000 people -- imagine how the local newspapers and TV stations will cover such a case. You will very likely be lumped in the public mind with nurses who poison their patients. Imagine yourself on the local news every day. Will you continue working at the same place? Probably not. Will you eventually move? Very likely). Easy. Don't have malpractice insurance. Known in the industry as "going naked," I have practiced this vice for years, because no lawyer is going to sue me. I am not worth it to them.

    If you work for a facility or practice that requires you to have malpractice, fine. Then it's a cost of doing business. If you are required as part of a contract to have malpractice insurance, then have it. Or if you are very wealthy, or have a high-profile family which would invite lawsuits, or if you have business assets in your own name, then OK. But I do not recommend that your average nurse have any malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is not worth it. Not because it costs too much, but because it is just too inviting to lawyers.

    The one time it might be worth it is if the malpractice insurance also covered claims against you to your state or commonwealth board of nursing. In other words, if a claim is made against you there, the insurance company will defend you. But since I'm not particularly afraid of that, either. I choose to have no malpractice insurance. It's a decision you have to make. But malpractice insurance is not the solution it is touted as being.
  9. by   RN4NICU
    Question for anyone who knows

    If one is not quite so stupid as to offer the information that they have malpractice insurance, how does the attorney know? This type of information is not recorded in the employees file or with the licensing board. There are several different companies out there and I would think that they would not release such information as "do any of these people have a policy?" especially not to an attorney, as it would be against their own interests to do so (possibility of having to pay out).
  10. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from RN4NICU
    Question for anyone who knows
    Quote from RN4NICU

    If one is not quite so stupid as to offer the information that they have malpractice insurance, how does the attorney know? This type of information is not recorded in the employees file or with the licensing board. There are several different companies out there and I would think that they would not release such information as "do any of these people have a policy?" especially not to an attorney, as it would be against their own interests to do so (possibility of having to pay out).


    The attorneys can find this out fairly quickly. A simple letter to the opposing council requesting that information.
  11. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from Jolie
    So why should anyone be responsible to anyone for anything? If your doctor makes an error which causes you or a family member to become disabled will you ask him/her for an apology and let it go at that? Will you fend for your finanical needs on your own? Not likely, but that's exactly the situation you'll leave your patient in. Highly disturbing and unprofessional, in my mind. But not surprising, given the society in which we live where no one seems to take responsibility for his own actions.
    Quote from Jolie

    So do you carry auto and home owner's insurance? If so, why? If someone were to accidentally rear-end your car, would you accept an apology and fix it yourself? Or would you expect them to live up to their responsibility and pay for your repairs? If you were to accidentally hit someone, would you fill out a police report and file an insuracne claim in order to repair their car? Or would you look for someone else on whom to place the blame? Or leave the injured party to fend for himself? Not much different from our hypothetical liability situation.


    I am sure we have all heard of someone who has been injured in an auto accident, and the responsible party did not have insurance. No attorney will take those cases... there is no money.
    I took many phone calls from people in this situation, and had to sadly inform them that they were probably s*****d. Attorneys cannot make money if someone has no insurance.
  12. by   RN4NICU
    Quote from Mschrisco

    I am sure we have all heard of someone who has been injured in an auto accident, and the responsible party did not have insurance. No attorney will take those cases... there is no money.
    I took many phone calls from people in this situation, and had to sadly inform them that they were probably s*****d. Attorneys cannot make money if someone has no insurance.
    Guess that's where the "uninsured motorist" coverage in many policies came from. A little protection against those who break the law by driving without insurance.
  13. by   gwenith
    I still like the set-up we have. Out union is our insurer. That means I can go to htem with ANY problem - I have sent depositions to the union to have them peruse before sending it on. They are there not only to cove me for malpractice but sine I am covered by vicarious liability they will go to bat for me if my employer turns around and tries to sue me.

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