What is medical malpractice? What is negligence? Why do you, as a medical professional, need to be insured against these things? In this series of articles we’ll take up these questions and more and offer you a road map to navigating the world of medical professional liability (malpractice) insurance.
Differentiating Medical Malpractice and Negligence
First, what is medical malpractice and how does it relate to negligence? Negligence is a broad legal term that includes any failure to act with the prudence reasonably expected to insure that one does not bring harm to others. So, negligence is what is at issue, for instance, in an automobile accident that results from reckless or imprudent driving.
Malpractice is a subset of the broader concept of negligence that specifically applies to professionals or those in vocations where standards of performance exist to insure safety and prevent harm—most notably (for our purposes), the medical field. To be accused of malpractice is to be accused of failure to act in accordance with the legal and industry standards of the medical community in such a way as to bear responsibility for harm done to a patient. Notably, malpractice is considered to be intentional in that it involves violating or ignoring known standards, whereas simple negligence does not necessarily involve a claim of intentionality (for example, involuntary manslaughter).
So, why do you as a medical professional need to be insured against malpractice? You have no intention of providing your patients with substandard care, or behaving negligently with regard to the standards of care outlined in either the law or the consensus of your field, right? But, that does not mean that you cannot find yourself liable. Whether through false accusation, fraud, misunderstanding, or mistake, the possibility of medical malpractice liability is always something that has to be considered. Furthermore, even apart from any actual malpractice, the cost of litigation when one is simply accused can be astronomical. Professionals and specialists all over the world are in constant battle against the threat of medical malpractice.
Medical professional liability insurance allows medical professionals to put these concerns out of mind and focus on their vocation—helping those who need it. Medical professional liability insurance is more than just a means to cover any cost incurred as a result an actual malpractice ruling; it is a risk management tool. Medical professional liability insurance means that you will have someone fighting for you in the event of a medical malpractice claim, that you will have legal counsel when and if you need it, and that your assets can remain safe amidst the shifting winds of ever changing legislation, legal opinion, and bureaucracy. Medical professional liability insurance exists to allow you to do your job, and to do it with confidence.
However, like anything else, medical professional liability insurance is a product and a service that exists on the market. And that means that you have options, and that some of those options will be better for your particular situation than others. That’s why it is critical for you to partner with a reputable, experienced broker or agent who can take your needs and interests into the marketplace and help you get exactly what you need, ensuring that you end up with both the best value and the best quality of coverage possible. When life doesn’t go as planned, finding a trusted, helping hand is the first step to protecting you from medical malpractice and helping you get your life back on track.