Are Doctors Required to Have Medical Malpractice Insurance

Last updated Apr 16, 2022 | Published on Apr 18, 2022

Medical institutions usually hire the services of many healthcare practitioners. All of these different employees serve different purposes, with the majority of them, if not all, interacting directly with patients. As they interact, they are thus at risk of harming others accidentally. When such harm occurs, malpractice suits may be served. This places both the individual staff and facility concerned at a fix. As a result, about every party in a healthcare facility requires medical malpractice insurance.

Malpractice coverage applies to the various employees within the facility. Nonetheless, it is essential to ensure all employees are appropriately covered from the right insurance policy forms. Usually, you may need coverage per the individual employment status.

Should Doctors Have Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Doctors are not required by federal law to have medical malpractice insurance. However, it is a requirement in various states. Whether or not a doctor requires insurance company coverage depends on the state they practice. About 32 states will not require you to have medical malpractice insurance. The remaining 18 states are divided into roughly two groups: states requiring minimum levels of insurance and those requiring medical experts to have insurance to qualify for liability reforms.

Understanding Medical Malpractice Coverage

Generally, medical malpractice coverage caters to medical professionals who treat patients. During medical interactions, there is always the risk of someone getting hurt. Injured patients may hold the healthcare service provider culpable for the medical damages.

Malpractice policies can help pay for the majority of claims resulting from:

  • Prescription errors
  • Mistreatment and misdiagnosis of ailments
  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • Surgical errors

The cost of injuries that result from such a mistake in judgment can become extremely excessive. Therefore, a malpractice policy would prove essential. In addition, it might be useful in protecting your facility from unprecedented financial losses resulting from adverse judgments. All medical institutions can cash in from efficient protection by a competent medical malpractice attorney.

How Insurance Policies Shield Employees

Medical malpractice insurance is available in various shapes and sizes. The choice of policy a facility requires varies depending on the services provided and its employees.

Usually, facilities bear a malpractice policy under their name. Thus, operations themselves have a degree of coverage. Such a policy may extend beyond the facility and cover the majority of those serving in the hospital. Various hospitals provide coverage to everyone under full-time employment with the facility.

However, some employees might require additional coverage beyond that offered by a facility. For example, some facilities are covered by only generalized coverage for their commercial needs. For this reason, most practices need employees to have extra personal malpractice coverage.

According to their varying needs, coverage may extend an additional level of protection to practitioners. For instance, an employee in high-risk practices such as an ER physician can benefit from personal coverage.

In addition, facilities’ coverage may not cover parties that the hospital does not officially employ but who still perform their duties within the institution.  For instance, nursing services or contracted physicians may not be official employees of the hospital. Therefore, they may be required to get personal coverage or have policies from their official employers.

Let us look at professionals who require medical malpractice insurance within medical facilities.

Paramedics

Usually, paramedics are not employed by the hospital in particular. Independent ambulance groups often employ them. Notwithstanding, they are usually in the front line of defense when you need vital medical assistance. A paramedic will generally need malpractice policies. However, the coverage should apply to the potential claims as they offer their particular services.

Residents and Medical Students

Typically, a hospital will need medical students to have their malpractice insurance. Often, as a medical student, you risk losing the most in the aftermath of malpractice claims. So, coverage is vital for your protection.

Surgeons and Physicians

Every physician within medical practices requires medical malpractice insurance. Nonetheless, all doctors are different. Thus, the coverage required varies. Additionally, though most facilities offer some level of malpractice insurance, the majority of physicians will need personal policies. Finally, physicians and their assistants also need coverage.

Surgeons are usually classified in a special field. Thus, they will typically require more custom coverage compared to attending physicians. However, coverage applies in every case, both outside and inside an operating room.

Nurse Practitioners and Nurses

The majority of nurses offer their services in diverse scenarios. Most of them do not focus on particular niches as some physicians do. They, therefore, will require malpractice coverage that uniquely covers their risks. According to the services rendered by a nurse, the required coverage will vary.

If your institution utilizes contracted nurses, their employers could cover them. Nonetheless, check the policy to ensure you see how it fits those serving on the facility. You should avoid placing the institution in a fix in the event a patient holds both you and the facilities responsible for the loss.

Doctor looks legal textbook through a magnifying glass.

Other Service Providers Within a Facility

The list of people requiring malpractice insurance in a facility is not restricted to only these people. Other professionals that require to be covered are:

  • Social workers
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Technicians
  • Physical therapists

However, the protection needs of these parties may differ from a standard medical malpractice policy. For instance, they may require what is popularly known as a professional liability policy in some situations.

Such policies should be applied to professional errors made by these parties as they offer you professional services. In addition, a more comprehensive professional liability policy may apply to certain groups within a facility, such as legal counsel and accountants. Thus, you may require a different type of insurance or liabilities covered.

Therefore, when you buy professional medical liability insurance coverage, ensure you get in touch with insurance agents. Such an agent can help you establish a coverage balance for every employee within the practice.

Are There States That Do Not Necessitate Medical Malpractice Insurance?

The states listed below will not require you to be medical malpractice insured, nor will you need to have minimum carrying needs.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Despite the states not having medical malpractice insurance or minimum carrying requirements, most physicians are still required to get malpractice insurance in particular situations. For example, most hospitals need physicians with visiting privileges to get malpractice insurance. In addition, some medical insurance plans need all doctors participating in their coverage to get malpractice insurance.

Examples of States That Need Doctors to Possess Malpractice Insurance

Seven states in the U.S need doctors to have a minimum malpractice insurance level. Connecticut, Colorado, Kansas, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.

The malpractice insurance levels that doctors must have varies significantly from one state to another.

How Can a Hospital Be Liable for My Damages?

The malpractice insurance of a hospital can cover your damages even in situations where your doctor lacks personal malpractice coverage. Hospitals bear the burden of keeping patients safe from harm via oversight through their administrative and medical staff.

The following instances can result in the hospital’s liability for your injury or illness:

  • Complications develop like infection resulting from poor care as you were hospitalized.
  • Your physician undertook incorrect or unnecessary surgery.
  • The hospital staff gave you an incorrect dosage or the wrong medication.

Medical malpractice attorneys can identify every liable party that probably played a part in your illness or injury. This is of great importance to your case since your personal care and the range of expenses associated with your medical needs could deplete the physician’s malpractice limits or individual assets.

Why Do Doctors Practice Without Malpractice Insurance?

Among the basic reasons for serving without malpractice insurance is the cost. Thanks to Tort reform which has taken place in many states, there has been a significant premium reduction. As a result, high-risk, previously uninsurable counties currently have several carriers competing. Additionally, specialties like OB/GYN, Orthopedics, and Neurosurgery are presently much simpler for a carrier to underwrite. Regardless of the factors, we still have doctors who do not see any affordable option to going without insurance.

Providers also opt to go without medical malpractice insurance because they believe they will be less of a target if they get sued. The thought is that upon an attorney realizing they lack insurance, the case will be thrown out due to reduced probability of “winnable assets.” This can apply in limited situations, though attorneys still can go after the practitioner or their organization.

Conclusion

Medical malpractice insurance is also referred to as professional liability insurance. It presents medical professionals, doctors included, with a financial aid system, should they be targeted by medical liability claims. There is no federal law requiring doctors to have malpractice insurance, though some workplace policies and state laws require the doctors to have an insurance policy.

2 Comments

  1. Anu

    Curious what kind of medmal applies to aesthetics….

    • L4Z

      It depends on what exactly the aesthetics practice offers, since there is a such a wide range. I’d recommend contacting an insurance agent and having them make a recommendation based specifically on your practice’s services.

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