With the health care industry trying to keep costs low for insurance companies, doctors are not the only medical professionals who need medical malpractice insurance. The trend for many doctor’s offices is to have nurse practitioners on hand to see patients when the doctor is busy tending to other patients. In the nationwide trend to reduce the costs of nursing homes or rehabilitation residences, traveling nurses have become a growing commodity to tend to patients in their home. Even physical therapists and counselors are in need of medical insurance as are holistic practitioners such as midwives and massage therapists who are liable for the health care they provide to their patients. All of these medical professionals are just as likely to be sued for malpractice as a doctor.
An Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), commonly referred to as a Nurse Practitioner (NP), holds a higher degree than a standard Registered Nurse (RN) and can perform many tasks that typically would be performed by a licensed doctor. This includes physical exams, ordering tests, analyzing test results and diagnosing certain conditions or diseases. They can also provide prenatal and well-child care. Nurse practitioners are in high demand at community clinics, home health agencies and nursing homes where the managing agency either cannot afford the salary of a doctor or they are trying to keep costs low for patients. With the type of health care nurse practitioners are asked to provide and the circumstances under which they provide the care, it is very important for them to have adequate malpractice insurance.
Many patients recovering from surgery or receiving regular treatments hire a traveling nurse to assist them at home. They perform routine care as prescribed by the patient’s doctor. Traveling nurses are typically independent contractors who do not fall under the insurance coverage of the hospital. While agencies are supposed to cover their contractors, the insurance policy is not always adequate to cover the entire amount awarded to the patient. If the traveling nurse works for more than one agency, there could also be a dispute as to which agency’s insurance covers the nurse, creating a delay in covering legal fees and court costs.
Physical therapists do the same type of screening, evaluating and diagnosing as doctors do. They also must develop a program to perform with the patient and for the patient to do at home that will achieve the goals set forth for the patient. This requires a great deal of analysis of the patient’s history, the medical issues they are experiencing, and the capabilities of the patient. Just as a physician, a physical therapist works with the information provided by the patient or the patient’s doctor, which makes them just as susceptible to lawsuits. Every physical therapist should have medical malpractice insurance covering them in the event of a lawsuit.
Not all counselors carry the title of doctor. However, counselors are required to be licensed to provide mental health care to patients. Counselors primarily do not use a medical model for diagnosing and treating their patients but rather a developmental theory to assist their clients with their mental health. There is a large amount of personal discussion involved with counseling, so a quick and absolute diagnosis cannot be obtained after one or two sessions. It can take months to determine if the patient is on the right course or needs to be referred to a psychiatrist. Some patients become frustrated with how long it takes for a diagnosis or referral by a counselor and discontinue counseling, often against the advice of the counselor. This could cause the patient to experience a set-back for which they blame the counselor. While counseling may seem like it would be exempt from medical malpractice, counselors are also subject to lawsuits at times.
Holistic medicine has become quite popular, and the demand for midwives for home births has increased. Midwives use natural, homeopathic and holistic approaches to provide care to their patients during the pregnancy as well as labor and delivery. Due to the many complications that could occur during even a normal, “textbook” pregnancy, many states require midwives to be trained and licensed. These complications are exactly the reason why midwives should carry medical malpractice insurance. Even under an experienced doctor’s care, birth defects and other complications could occur, so it is especially important for midwives to protect themselves with detailed and thorough notes and records as well as medical malpractice insurance.
Massage uses various techniques to manipulate the muscles in the body. This can be beneficial to a patient’s overall health and is a useful addition to some physical therapy routines. However, there is room for human error in massage therapy. Even with a comprehensive patient history and release and waiver forms, massage therapists have found themselves as defendants in lawsuits. Since many massage therapists work as independent contractors, it is essential that they protect their business by purchasing medical malpractice insurance. Hawaii medical malpractice
Covering What Isn’t Covered
Hospitals and HMOs have their own medical malpractice insurance that is structured to insure medical professionals in their employ. However, some lawsuit verdicts may exceed the maximum payout covered under the policy. The amounts not paid are the responsibility of the medical practitioner. This is where malpractice insurance for nurses, therapists and others is necessary.
There are also situations where the medical practitioner is not an employee of the hospital but is allowed access to their patients through the hospital. In these cases, the hospital’s malpractice insurance would not cover lawsuits against them.
Any medical professional providing care to patients would be well-suited to purchase medical malpractice insurance. Practicing any branch of health care can bring with it unintended lawsuits from angry patients or grieving family members. While not all medical malpractice lawsuits are found in favor of the patient, there are still court costs and attorneys fees that can be quite costly to the medical provider. Having adequate insurance to cover these costs is in the best interest of all medical specialists.