As the shortages of doctor’s increase and use of mid-levels are on the rise, are physicians heading toward increasing their medical liability risks without knowing it? Doctors are faced daily with the increasing needs of patients and less time to assist on day to day issues.
With reimbursements down and revenues declining there is a need to create revenue. Many have found an answer to this need by utilizing their mid-level personnel to expand the care they offer to patients to avoid long waits and boost their bottom line. Do these expanded care positions offer more risk that can be avoided with a simple phone call or short letter?
Many PA’s and NP’s Carry Their Own Medical Liability Insurance Policy – This is Not Enough
As an employer and a primary collaborating physician, you may find yourself caught between the opportunity to provide more care and the risk of malpractice when in fact all you are doing is trying to extend additional care through PA or NP assistance. In these cases, knowing and following the laws that govern these contractual agreements is an important risk management tool, but even more importantly understanding there is a possibility of exposure to you that you may not even know about until it’s too late can avoid exposing you and your practice to unnecessary losses.
When forming an alliance such as a collaborating agreement with your PA or NP, be certain that you inform your medical liability insurance carrier of these alliances. Insurance carriers may require identification of these personnel and actually naming them on your policy as additional named insured’s in order to provide primary coverage for them specifically or vicariously to share the limits of your malpractice policy should the need arise.
Additional named insured’s are not certificate holders like your hospitals or surgery centers that need proof of your coverage, they are actually considered a part of the coverage on your malpractice policy as a whole or vicariously as an employee. Many physicians don’t see the exposure until it’s presented and the insurance carrier does not show the ancillary named on the policy and coverage can be denied.
As these risks are on the rise hand and hand with the growing need for additional assistance due to the shortage of physician care to patient need, don’t get wrapped up in the security of thinking that these extenders are covering themselves and you have coverage too. Vicarious liability from your association with these extending ancillaries is a very real issue and unless there is notification to your medical liability insurance carrier, you may be placing yourself and your practice at risk.
Simply put, a short letter of explanation, a copy of your collaborative agreement, the license of your extenders and clarification to your medical liability insurance carrier can alleviate this issue and secure coverage seamlessly for you and your practice. The vicarious exposure is most likely the most misunderstood part of the malpractice insurance policy because assumption on the part of the physician that a policy on the extender will cover everything leads to gaps in coverage for the vicarious exposure as the employer or collaborating physician.
However, there are many medical liability insurance carriers that consider it necessary to name you on the other contract for your vicarious liability as a collaborating physician, or to name that extender on your policy for the same reasons. Check with your insurance carrier now, malpractice broker or check into eQuoteMD’s website for assistance from one of our professional liability consultants to further discuss this issue with you.