Now that it’s clear why large practices need medical malpractice insurance, it’s important to discuss smaller practices. Small practices may appear to have less risk than larger practices, but this isn’t necessarily true. While small practices have less employees, they also tend to have less cushion for when disaster or claims occur. This is why it’s critical for small practices to carry medical malpractice insurance.
Is Medical Malpractice Insurance Required for Small Practices?
The U.S. does not have a mandate requiring medical malpractice insurance, leaving it to states to mandate. The states who do require doctors to carry medical malpractice insurance are:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
The limits and minimum requirements for medical malpractice insurance vary per state. Other states, including New York, do not require medical malpractice insurance, but it’s recommended.
Does My Small Practice Need Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Practices that should invest in medical malpractice include:
- Family Medicine
Any practice that deals with clients in a health-related manner should have medical malpractice insurance. Medical malpractice occurs when a health specialist commits a mistake that results in injury or worsening conditions to the person they are treating. OBGYNs have the highest number of lawsuits behind surgeons. Health is a very delicate subject and a mistake in this industry can lead to disaster. In 2017 alone there are over 2.5 thousand paid medical malpractice claims of $500,000 or more. Small practices can’t always afford the legal costs to defend themselves in court. New York accounted for almost 20% of medical malpractice claims between 2012 and 2016. Make sure your small practice is protected in case of a lawsuit concerning medical malpractice.
What is the Average Malpractice Insurance Cost?
The specialty of the insured practice influences the cost of malpractice insurance heavily. OBGYNs and surgeons typically require the most amount of medical malpractice insurance. They face the highest risk and have a long history of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Does Medical Malpractice Insurance Cover Sexual Assault?
This is a tricky area when it comes to medical malpractice. Medical malpractice insurance typically excludes criminal acts, but some insurance agencies may pay for legal fees for a sexual assault claim against a physician. Patients are at a unique, vulnerable state when seeking medical help. They are often nervous, sedated or otherwise distracted or incapacitated. If a physician is accused of sexual assault, it may land to the physician to pay for their own defensive legal fees. Even if the accusation doesn’t fall to the small practice, the reputation of the small practice could be severely wounded.
How to Avoid a Medical Malpractice Claim
Even after purchasing medical malpractice insurance, it’s important to take preventative measures to avoid medical malpractice claims.
- Perform heavy background checks on every employee. Even the smallest employee in a small practice can be at risk for medical malpractice. Make sure a background check is performed on each employee to ensure they are professional and trustworthy.
- Provide additional training. Training on how to handle people who are sedated or in other fragile situations can help avoid accidental injury.
- Obtain written consent from patients for every procedure.
- Communicate intentions and procedures with coworkers and patients.
- Maintain current medical practice standards.
- Follow up with patients after visits and procedures. Failing to follow up can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit, especially failing to follow up after a large surgery.
- Encourage employees to ask for help. Along with communicating, everyone within the practice should feel comfortable seeking assistance.
- Document everything accurately from the very beginning of the doctor-patient relationship.
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