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NursesAs hospital and medical provider networks have expanded, employment arrangements have changed. A need for staff doesn’t always equal the ability to employ all workers under the hospital system. Many providers use outsourced nurses and physicians to provide care as a result. How does this impact someone's needs and qualifications for malpractice insurance?

At the end of the day, all medical contractors need malpractice insurance. How they can receive it, however, depends on their employment status. While some employers offer this coverage, some practitioners might need their own policies.

The Need for Malpractice Insurance

Malpractice coverage insures a professional if their negligence leads to harm to others. If you’re a nurse, you likely understand why you need protection. You work with patients every day, many of whom have extremely sensitive needs. Some require delicate care. When you interact with them, you run the risk of harming them, even unintentionally. 

If you do harm a patient, you might face consequences. The patient or their family might sue you. Settlements, legal fees and other restitution might result. Rather than pay settlements out-of-pocket, your malpractice insurance might cover your costs. Therefore, it is critical financial support for both patients and care providers. The patient in question can receive the compensation they deserve. The provider won’t have to suffer unfairly nonetheless.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that a patient accuses you of not following standards during a medical biopsy. Because of your alleged mistake, the patient suffered complications. They had to endure extra, unplanned treatment and faced considerable pain and suffering. They feel you caused extensive losses for which they were not prepared. This could prove a devastating allegation, even if it is not true. Costly legal proceedings and settlements may result. 

Still with malpractice insurance, you might have recourse. Many policies cover allegations of sexual misconduct. With a claim, you might be able to cover legal fees, settlements and other resulting costs. It might even cover the income you lose by having to take time off to go to court. Of course, if a criminal act occurred, most liability insurance will not pay.

Where You Obtain Malpractice Insurance as a Contractor

If you are an outsourced provider, the facility you serve is not your official employer. While you might work in a major hospital, you are actually employed by another business. This might be a nursing service, for example. Therefore, how you can obtain malpractice insurance might vary.

  • Many hospitals carry liability insurance for all their employees. Yet, because you are not officially on the payroll, you are generally not an employee. You might even move from hospital to hospital from time to time. As a result, the insurance of the hospital where you work might not cover you in case of claims. While some will, others won't.
  • Still, your official employer might provide you with malpractice coverage. For example, your nursing service might have a comprehensive liability policy in place. Therefore, wherever you happen to work, you’ll likely have coverage.

To determine what party (if any) covers your liabilities, speak to your employer. They’ll likely provide information on the protection you automatically receive, if any.
Even if you have employer-provided coverage, you might not find it suitable for your needs. In some cases, you might need a personal policy alongside to your company coverage. You might wonder, initially, why this need exists.

  • Employer-provided coverage might not cover certain types of claims. In other words, if the employer’s coverage excludes the claim against you, you won’t have protection. A personal policy might need to fill in the gaps.
  • If your specialty of care raises your risk, you might need more tailored coverage. Never assume an employer plan will cover all specialty risks. Many will go to lengths to do so. However, niche specialties might merit specialized coverage.
  • Some facilities will require their employees (including contractors) to carry stand-alone coverage. In this case, you might not have a choice on whether to carry coverage.
    In some cases, following a suit against the business, the employer sues the employee in return. Think of it as the way an employer shifts responsibility onto the employee. In these cases, your own policy might better help you.

The involvement of employers and contractors in liability claims will vary. Thus, providers should make sure they always have coverage for both yours and their own needs. Check with your employer to see if their malpractice insurance covers your claims. Specifically make sure no exclusions exist for your coverage. Also check to make sure the policy provides enough limits for your most expensive claims. 

For security, contracting physicians should ensure their employment status remains clear. Guarantee that you have all the credentials and permission to work in a facility. As long as you know your employment status, you’ll often know your responsibility for liability insurance.

Never forget, the appropriate malpractice insurance will do nothing if you practice recklessly, or in a maliciously-harmful manner. Hold yourself to the highest degree of professionalism in all your places of work.

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