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Should I Carry Nursing Malpractice (Liability) Insurance?

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Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

What is malpractice insurance?

Malpractice (liability) insurance is the Nurse’s advocate as it provides essential legal and financial security. Many Nurses go "bare" and never really consider Liability insurance as important. Just as many think, "I'm not a Physician", or, "I've never known a Nurse to be sued", or, "It costs too much", or, "I'll take my chances; it's too much trouble". For whatever reason you may have, just be sure you are well informed before you make any final decisions about your future.

Should I Carry Nursing Malpractice (Liability) Insurance?

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 or conduct by a professional such as a Physician, Nurse, Attorney, etc. Malpractice occurs when it can be proven that the professional had a duty to provide a standard of care/conduct, breached that duty, an injury or damage resulted, and the injury/damage was caused by the breach.

No matter how educated, confident, and careful the Nurse is, unintentional mistakes can and will happen. Accidents will occur. And, unfortunately, willful neglect can be an issue. Injury and death very often are the results of mistakes, accidents, and neglect. Families want to know what happened. Even in the best scenario, the Nurse feels embarrassed and ultimately fears what the damage could do to a perfect professional reputation. Nurses must have the option of protecting their professional reputations and personal assets. Having individual Liability Insurance is a smart solution.

Nurses will often make the following statement

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My employer covers me so I don't need my own malpractice/liability policy.

Yes, your employer's policy may cover you, but only up to a point. Remember: Your employer's policy is created to fit their specific needs and protects them first. You may even be told (by your employer HR) that you do not need your own policy. What they do not tell you is that they want you to be represented by their attorneys. They do not want "outside" representation for they know that their best interests will not be first and foremost.

All malpractice liability insurance policies have limits of liability. If you are only covered by your employer's insurance, other defendants employed at your entity may and probably do share your liability limits under the same policy. If you, as well as others, are named in a suit, your legal costs, including any settlement, could exceed your employer's shared liability limits. This would mean out-of-pocket expenses for you.

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What type of policy and how much coverage do I need as a Nurse?

These are questions that are very important when considering a policy.

Two Popular Policies

  • Occurrence-based - any covered incident occurring while the policy is in effect even if the policy is now canceled and/or you have retired
  • Claims-made - any covered incident only while the policy is in effect

The cost of a policy is economical and reasonable. For example, the annual premium could cover the first hour billed by Attorney. $1,000,000/$6,000,000 coverage premiums are approximate $100/year in most states for the Registered Nurse (RN) as well as for the Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN).

Links of Interest

One major benefit of an individual policy that is often overlooked or taken for granted when considering coverage is license protection. Nurses need to be aware that this will extend beyond their employer's coverage and includes discipline issues that can be brought up by the individual Nurse's Board of Nursing (BON). Many Nurses do not have the financial ability to go against the BON, therefore, license protection is a must.

Another all-important beneficial consideration is that policies normally will include coverage regarding libel, slander and patient confidentiality, including HIPAA issues. These issues can be troublesome and include a great cost for the Nurse.

Finally, a common statement that is incorrect and based on myth ...

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Malpractice liability insurance will make me a target and I'll be named in a lawsuit.

When being named in a lawsuit, no one knows you have your own personal policy unless you have revealed this information. Only after a lawsuit is filed and only during the period of the discovery phase is this information available.

So, do you carry your own individual malpractice/liability insurance? In the end, the question of whether or not the Nurse should carry malpractice/liability insurance is a personal one and should be seriously considered.

The peace of mind knowing that you are covered is overwhelming.

The peace of overwhelming reassurance.

sirI is an OB-GYN NP-BC, (Emeritus), FNP-BC, and Legal Nurse Consultant. Specialty areas include OB-GYN, trauma, med-legal consulting, forensics, and education. She conducts seminars for Nursing Students, Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers regarding how to avoid litigation, assisting with depositions, and conducting "Mock Trials" where the students are the players in the court proceedings. sirI is a Senior Administrator for allnurses.com.

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237 Comment(s)

One bright spot in my financial year(unemployed but still carrying it) is the fact that my malpractice insurance did not go up this year.

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

That is good news, oramar.

cjcsoon2bnp, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

That's really interesting, I honestly haven't put much thought into that. So sirI at what point would you recommend that we look into malpractice insurance? I am still a student but I want to be prepared for these kind of things ahead of time.

!Chris :specs:

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Excellent advice, sirI! I encourage my students to purchase their own Liability Insurance upon graduation. (In our program, each student is required to purchase liability insurance at a very inexpensive student rate from a provider that contracts with our college of nursing.)

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

cjcsoon2brn said:
That's really interesting, I honestly haven't put much thought into that. So sirI at what point would you recommend that we look into malpractice insurance? I am still a student but I want to be prepared for these kind of things ahead of time.

!Chris :specs:

Hello, !Chris

Like VickyRN said, I, too, advise my students to secure personal/individual Liability Insurance. But, I advise them to purchase while still a student.

With NSO, these rates are around $29 /year for 1,000,000/6,000,000 coverage. It is rare a nursing student is successfully sued, but they are named in lawsuits. It is, as I pointed out, a small fee for peace of mind.

donsterRN, ASN, BSN

Specializes in Cardiac Care. Has 10 years experience.

This is excellent information to have!

My program briefly discussed malpractice insurance with us, but no one (to the best of my memory) actually made recommendations. My nursing journals always have the NSO insurance application at the front of the magazine, but I honestly never really paid much attention. You can bet I will now. As a matter of fact, I'll complete an app today. It's well worth it not to worry about it.

Thanks again!

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

Smart, donster.

You will receive the same student rates for your 1st year after graduation, too, with NSO.

emtb2rn, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency. Has 21 years experience.

Got my NSO insurance when I was a student. In our litigious society, the small cost of having nursing malpractice insurance makes it almost a no-brainer.

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

You are absolutely correct, emtb2rn!!

madwife2002, BSN, RN

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

Thanks sirI have just done it and my rate for AZ was $99

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

Very good, madwife2002. I'm happy to see you did this.

Music in My Heart

Specializes in being a Credible Source. Has 10 years experience.

I sometimes hear people say, "I've got nothing for them to take so I don't need insurance."

My response is, "Ah, but you do have something for them to go after... you have your future earnings as a nurse once you graduate. Unless you want to live underground, they can and will garnish your wages to satisfy the judgment."

The lawyers from the hospital's insurer are out to limit THEIR liability and if they think they can do so by tossing a nurse to the lions, that's what's going to happen. Me, I want my own insurer with lawyers whose duty is to defend me. $100-200 per year is cheap insurance, indeed.

DroogieRN

Has 2 years experience.

I just finished my first year of NS and it was recommended that we purchase it prior to our first clinical last fall. I got it through NSO for $29. I was told that you can be sued down the line for something that occurs while you are a student, and if you didn't have coverage for that time, whatever insurance you later purchase can't help you.

sirI,

Is there any particular areas of practice you would specifically recommend attain malpractice insurance? Ones that you feel should definitely be covered outside their employers carrier?

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

Hello, Keysnurse2008

All areas are vulnerable. Patients and their attorneys are not selective with their lawsuits. I see a lot of LTC, ED, NICU, and OB cases. A few Med-Surg, OR, and MICU cases.

Check out this blog entry Litigious Areas of Nursing and the Nurse's Liability for some additional information.

Can you give a link or something of where to find the insurance coverage that you got?