Quote from BabyLady
This is what your employer didn't tell you.
You are covered as long as you follow hospital policy EXACTLY.
If you make an honest med error, an honest mistake in charting that leads to an error, etc...you are not covered.
If you deviate from policy at all...that includes the tasks that is technically not policy but "everyone does it that way and we don't have any problems with it"...they will hang you out to dry unless you follow written policy.
If you have to appear before the board of nursing...you are not covered.
If your employer falsely accuses you of something you didn't do....you are not covered.
If you need to CONSULT with an attorney to protect your license legally or your job at the hospital...you are not covered.
The crap that employers spew about you being more likely to get sued if you have insurance is a load of BS. You are not required to tell your employer if you have private malpractice insurance unless your state requires it.
It's pretty hard to figure out you have private insurance...if the attorney trying to sue you has no idea if you have it or not.
There is no mysterious database that carries this information.
If nurses were more likely to get sued if they carried insurance, nurses' malpractice insurance would be in the thousands rather than a couple hundred dollars.
In many states IF YOU CARRY PRIVATE malpractice insurance...many laws bar you from being PERSONALLY liable as long as you didn't commit gross misconduct (ie. Purposely doing something to harm someone)...that means that your malpractice insurance may have to pay..but you won't lose your house, car, etc.
If you don't...then there is nothing stopping them from suing you personally..any assets in your name, alone or jointly, can be taken.
All of the above is 100% true. Employers tell new nurses and new employees that they don't need individual coverage because they want to keep you the legal equivalent of "barefoot and pregnant." If anything goes wrong, they want
you to be dependent on their attorneys for legal advice and representation, and not be getting advice from anyone who is representing your
If anything ever does go seriously wrong at work, the first thing that will happen is that the hospital attorneys (the ones who would be supposedly representing your interests if you depend on your employer's insurance, hahaha) will start reviewing the situation to identify one or more nurses they can blame for the bad outcome in order to reduce the hospital's liability, and they will cut those nurses loose without batting an eye. I worked as a hospital surveyor in my state for a number of years and it was striking how often, when we arrived to investigate a suspicious death or other bad outcome in a facility, we were met at the door
by the hospital administrators and attorneys so that they could tell us, right up front, that their internal investigation had determined that the whole thing was Nurse X's
fault, they were shocked. shocked!
to find that they had such a dangerous and incompetent nurse working there, and, to show their good will, they wanted us to know that they had already fired her/him (and, often, reported her/him to the BON). Upon reviewing the medical records involved, it was typically obvious that Nurse X
hadn't done anything worse than to have the bad luck to have been assigned to that particular client on that particular shift ... But the facility had already scapegoated her/him -- and, of course, once the facility fires you, or even makes a determination that you acted inappropriately (however flimsy their rationale for that may be), you're no longer covered by their insurance; and, at that point, if you don't already have
your own coverage, you can't get any after the fact to cover that incident
(there's no insurance company on earth that will sell you coverage for something that has already happened), so, if it ends up that you need an attorney, you'll be paying for that out of your own pocket -- and just the first hour
with the attorney will cost you more than the annual premium for your insurance (in most cases).
Yes, the chance that an individual RN will ever be sued for malpractice is v. slim -- which is why the annual premiums for most nurses are in the hundreds of $$$ rather than thousands of $$$ -- but, as BabyLady notes, the standard policies also cover legal representation if you have to defend your license before the BON, and that circumstance is more likely than actually getting sued
. Also, your personal policy covers you if you want to do any kind of volunteer work as a nurse, give nursing advice or assistance to a friend or neighbor, etc. (your employer's coverage only covers you when you're actually at work in their facility).
Personally, I would never consider working a single day without my own coverage. My father was an MD and advised me back when I was in nursing school (back in the Dark Ages) to never depend on my employer to look out for me and to always have my own coverage -- and everything I've seen in the decades since then has only reinforced to me what good advice that was!
In addition to NSO and Marsh, some folks on this site have mentioned that they have coverage as a rider on their homeowner's insurance policy. I don't know anything about how that works -- I have always been more comfortable dealing with a company that specializes in providing nursing liability coverage.