Should I Carry Nursing Malpractice (Liability) Insurance? - page 11

This question comes up frequently and is asked of me quite often, "should I carry malpractice protection?" "What is malpractice?" Simply put, it is a failure to adhere to a standard of care... Read More

  1. by   DougMSNRN

    i've read a good number of replies here. and, i'm writing this from the perspective of someone who has managed litigation in a large medical center where nurses (including the nurse executive (yes, cnos can be held culpable for nursing care in their departments)) were named as defendants. so, here is the input from my perspective.

    most risk managers will tell you that you do not need to carry pl (professional liability) insurance because you are covered under the policy of the institution you are working. generally, this is true. there are caveats to this, like if you're a mid-level provider (np, nm or crna, for instance). but, most institutions will cover you under their policy. here's where it may get 'sticky':
    - are you an agency nurse? if you are, the organization you work for needs to have $1m/$3m limits. however, some agencies have 'issues' with their coverage and limits. also, agencies have gone after their staff (that has since moved on) for damages awarded to plaintiffs if anything the nurse did as a registry staff was questionable. if you are an agency nurse, you are an idiot if you don't have this type of protection.
    - do you work in a highly litigious specialty? labor and delivery, or and ed are very heavy with malpractice allegations. who's going to compensate you for deposition/discovery time, travel time, time off work, etc. if the malpractice claim was opened 4 years ago and you've since moved on?
    - do you believe the 'if i have insurance it's just a reason to be named as a defendant' motto? don't. while it's true that if you have pl coverage and you are named, the organization you are a co-defendant with may attempt to collect part of the defense costs w/ your pl carrier, this is a small draw-back from knowing you have participated in the defense effort. and, what happens if during the course of discovery the organizations defense strategy doesn't mesh with yours? if you have your own pl coverage, your carrier is able to secure you separate defense council.
    - and, the big one: what happens if your license is called into question? no organization is going to willingly provide you with counsel for this type of hearing. your pl carrier will (depending on the coverage you purchase).
    bottom line: nurses are being called more often to provide aggressive nursing care. simply stating "i called the doctor" isn't cutting the mustard any longer. as society has gotten older and the healthcare system has become more burdened, nurses have moved from 'custodial' roles to 'professional' roles. this makes having pl coverage a no-brainer.
  2. by   Nurse Attorney
    I still believe the risk of a nurse being named as a defendant in a malpractice case is remote. I have practiced law for over 17 years now. In the past I handled medical malpractice cases - both defense and plaintiff - in California and Nevada. I have never seen a staff nurse named individually in a lawsuit. The hospitals are named as defendants because (1) they are legally responsible for the actions and negligence of their employees, including nurses; and (2) their insurance policy will cover any claims for negligence. Thus, there is no reason to name the nurse individually, even if he/she carries his/her own malpractice insurance. Further, an attorney cannot discover whether a particular nurse has insurance until a lawsuit has been filed against that nurse. Therefore, the fact that a nurse has insurance is not the determining factor of whether or not they will be named in the lawsuit. However, nurses are usually called as witnesses in malpractice cases since they have knowledge and information regarding the alleged negligence and care of the patient. In any event, if a nurse is either named as a defendant or as a witness, if they have their own liability insurance, they will be able to hire their own lawyer to protect their interests, which, depending on the facts, may be adverse to the hospital's interests. Nurses often mistakenly believe that the hospital's attorney is "their" attorney - - nothing could be further from the truth. The hospital attorney is hired to protect the hospital, not the nurse.
  3. by   lamazeteacher
    Medical professionals are compensated for appearing at depositions (preliminary trials for recording testimony that may conflict with that given in court, at attorney's offices), court appearances, conferences, and any research they do. Nurses should expect nothing less (or more) than their hourly rate for that, and can bill the attorney and client on the side for which they appear. They should not bill for their time while working and receiving pay for that at the same time (duh, but some people have done that).

    I haven't heard of any malpractise/negligence lawsuits that take years for a judgment.... so you shouldn't be without compensation very long, if you request being called by the legal party when the time for your testimony has almost (giving you time to get there, park, and find the courtroom) arrived. That is, spending days doing nothing (in most courts) is a thing of the past. Nowadays, courts give attorneys pagers, so they can be earning their pay, not sitting around reading stuff that has nothing to do with the trial, while waiting for a court room. (I used to tell my husband - a civil trial attorney about that possibility, decades before it actually happened - and it did, though it took much longer than it should have.) Clients are billed for time the attorneys take to get to court, at court, etc. A law firm that receives money from clients who are plaintiffs up front, should pay a nurse from that amount, in a timely manner, despite what the former hospital administrator, DougMSN,RN said in post # 132.

    He was right about having your own insurance policy, but that is so that an attorney represents you, and keeps anything you might say in court from harming you. The hospital's attorneys work for the hospital, not the nurse. They know whose "pockets are deeper".
  4. by   cherryames1949
    I have always carried malpractice insurance. It was called to my attention as a new grad and I took the advice. Thanks for the timely reminder.
  5. by   Staff Nurse
    I think It's a must have.
  6. by   yaya21
    @lamazeteacher post #122

    Hi! I wanted to know what insurance did you have that cost $67/yr. I looked through the links that were posted and haven't found one for that rate which I rather pay than anything over $100. If you remember could you please let me know? Thanks!
  7. by   elkpark
    Quote from yaya21
    @lamazeteacher post #122

    Hi! I wanted to know what insurance did you have that cost $67/yr. I looked through the links that were posted and haven't found one for that rate which I rather pay than anything over $100. If you remember could you please let me know? Thanks!
    Just like auto or homeowner's insurance, typical premiums for professional liability coverage vary from state to state. The rates that you get offered will depend on (among other things) what state you're practicing in -- it doesn't matter how low or high premiums are in other states.
  8. by   yaya21
    I see...ah well such is life. Sucks though lol.
  9. by   lamazeteacher
    Elkpark and YaYa 21; That amount of $67. was many years ago, in CA; and hopefully I wrote about paying that in the past. I believe that "you (definitely) get what you pay for".

    When comparing rates, do what you'd do when shopping for most things, compare the value of the thing, then the price. Auto insurance is another thing that varies a lot, but you have to compare apples with apples, and oranges would be the price.
  10. by   lamazeteacher
    "I used to have the insurance that was available for $67/year, but it really never gave me peace of mind." quote from lamazeteacher's post # 122

    Whew! Yes, it was a past amount.....
  11. by   surviveslu
    Thanks everyone for educating me about medical malpractice insurance for nurses. As a new graduate nurse, I have learned so much from what you all had to say.
  12. by   mochagirl26
    How big is the concern that nurses need the insurance? Are they really sued that often or are companies trying to scare nurses into the additional expense?
  13. by   juliannc99
    Oh my gosh, I forgot all about looking into this and your information is very informative. Thank you so much!