As a doctor, you help heal patients of all ages, but mistakes happen, and you may face a lawsuit for medical malpractice against one of your patients. If this happens, you may be responsible for a hefty settlement. If you are worried about being accused of medical malpractice or if you've already been accused, check out these three facts so you can better protect yourself and your investment.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Is Available
Businesses that sell, distribute or manufacture products typically have product liability insurance. If the item does cause damage or injury, this insurance covers the costs. As a doctor, you don't sell or make a product, and services are not covered under product liability insurance, so you'll need professional liability insurance, which for doctors includes medical malpractice insurance. However, it isn't only doctors who should consider this type of insurance. Anyone who provides a service (doctor, attorney, accountant, etc.) should have insurance.
Depending on where you live, it may be legally required for you to have coverage. Also, your state may offer both claims-made and occurrence policies. Occurrence coverage is typically the most desirable because it covers you for a specific period of time for life. Even if you cancel coverage, you are protected for anything that occurred during the policy period. It doesn't matter if the claim is filed years after your plan is canceled. With a claims-made policy, the claim must be submitted before the policy is canceled, or else it will be denied.
You Don't Have to Be Malicious
As a doctor, your goal is to heal patients, so you may think you don't need insurance because you have no intention of being malicious to patients. Unfortunately, you don't have to be malicious to get sued by a patient. True, the cases you typically hear about involve wrongful death, but the term doesn't only apply to doctors who were purposely negligent. This type of insurance is also referred to as errors and omissions, so even making a small mistake or omission that leads to a wrongful death can lead to consequences.
Also, it's not just the family member of deceased patients who can sue. Living patients can sue too. Typically, as long as the patient can prove your actions caused some kind of adverse effect, they might win. This may include something as simple as misdiagnosing the patient or giving them the wrong medication, leading to delayed treatment or worsening of symptoms.
You Will Likely Need an Attorney
If you are dealing with a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, you will likely need an attorney. The limits on medical malpractice are high, so you need an attorney in your corner to ensure a patient isn't exaggerating their condition. They have the expertise and skills to gather necessary data and argue a better settlement on your behalf.
However, you don't want to use any attorney. You need one that specializes in medical malpractice because it can be extremely complicated. Dealing with medical issues opens the door to pain and suffering, which can include long-term physical and psychological effects on the patient. A general attorney won't have the experience needed to fight these cases properly. Because of this, the insurance carrier may not even take your attorney seriously if they don't specialize in medical malpractice.
Doctors do their best to help patients get better, but no one is perfect, and medical mistakes happen. You need to protect your investment and yourself with adequate insurance and a medical malpractice attorney. If you would like more information about medical malpractice, or if you need legal advice/representation for an upcoming medical malpractice case, contact a trained, experience medical malpractice attorney at a law firm like Lee Eadon Isgett Popwell & Owens in your area today.