First, welcome to Allnurses!
There are lots of older threads here about the pros and cons of carrying your own professional liability insurance. You can use the "search" feature to find them. Lots of opinions and info there.
However, if you believe that your employer will step up for you in a lawsuit, you are living in a dream world. Technically, you are "covered" under the hospital's blanket liability insurance as an employee (as long as your actions/practice follow exactly
the hospital's approved, written policies and procedures, nothing more, nothing less -- how confident are you that you are always 100% in compliance
with the P/P manual???) The reality, though, is that the hospital's attorneys (and its insurance company's attorneys) are being paid to protect the hospital's
interests (that's not a bad
thing; it's just important to recognize how the system works). As soon as something awful happens that is likely to result in a lawsuit, the hospital will start looking for one or more individuals (employees) that it can blame to deflect blame away from the hospital. It will cut those individuals loose and leave them to fend for themselves in a heartbeat.
I worked as a hospital surveyor/inspector for my state and the Feds for several years, and saw this happen many, many times, first hand -- there would be some bad outcome (patient injury or death) at a hospital, and we would arrive to do our investigation for the state licensing agency or CMS. Although our concern was facility compliance with licensure rules, it wasn't hard to see that many of these situations were likely to end up being lawsuits against the hospital ... By the time we arrived (often within a day or two of the incident), the hospital administrators had already figured out which of the nurses they were going to blame, and had already fired that person or persons. The hospital administrators would (almost literally) meet us at the front door of the hospital to say, "It wasn't OUR fault -- it was that crazy nurse!" In reviewing the medical records, it would often be pretty clear that the nurse in question hadn't really done anything worse than just happen to be the poor schmoe who was assigned to care for that
patient on that
shift, but the doo-doo had already hit the fan and there was no going back.
If you were to find yourself in that situation and you don't already have your own insurance, you are completely screwed -- as soon as you are fired, you are no longer covered by the hospital (heck, they're the ones saying it's your fault
), and there is no insurance company on the planet
that will sell you coverage, at any price, for an incident that has already occurred. Even if you are only called as a witness in the suit, you will be paying for legal representation out of your own pocket, and just the first hour
of consultation with an attorney will cost you more than the annual premium for a standard nursing liability policy.
Having said all that, I happily concede that it is pretty darned rare for nurses to get sued for malpractice. However, most of the standard policies from the established companies also provide coverage for representation if you are called as a witness or deposed in a case (as mentioned above) and if you have to appear before the BON for any type of disciplinary action against your license. Both of those situations are much
more likely to occur at some point than your being sued and, again, if you have to pay for your own representation in these situations, just the first hour with an attorney will cost you more than the annual premium for the insurance ...
My father is a physician, and he advised me 'way back when I was in nursing school to never trust a hospital (or other employer) to look out for my interests or protect my license, and to never practice without my own liability coverage. Everything I've seen in the >20 years since then has just confirmed to me what excellent advice that was. I would never work a day
without my own coverage. It's the best ~$100 I spend every year.