Medical Malpractice News

The Importance of Risk Management for Medical Malpractice Insurance

Tags: | Comments: 0 | April 18th, 2011

Many doctors ask why they should spend the time to take risk management classes offered by their medical malpractice insurance carrier.  The number one reason to do so is to save as much premium as possible on their medical liability insurance.  Most medical malpractice insurance companies offer anywhere from a 5-15 percent discount for completion of the risk management courses.  This premium savings can add up to thousands of dollars.

In the past, medical malpractice insurance companies required physicians to attend live seminars, which took time away from their medical practice and income.  Now, these courses are generally available online, take very little time to complete and may be accomplished outside of practice hours.  Courses are available in many different formats outside of the internet. Most medical malpractice insurance companies offer books with quizzes.

Another popular option is seminars. Medical malpractice insurance companies often put on seminars quarterly or semi-annually so that physicians may attend and receive their risk management discount and continuing medical education (CME). Some medical liability insurance companies find it so important that they have their risk management department physically meet with every doctor’s office in an effort to teach physicians and surgeon’s ways to reduce their risk of a malpractice claim. In addition nearly all of the risk management courses offered by medical malpractice insurance also give physicians and surgeons CME credits. Physicians are required to complete a certain amount of CME’s each year in order to comply with the medical licensing requirements from the medical board in their respective state. The premium savings over the course of a physician’s career can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Just as important as saving premium, physician risk management programs are designed to reduce and eliminate the causes and frequency of malpractice claims, which ultimately minimizes financial loss to the physician practice.  Physicians and medical malpractice insurance carriers are mutually aligned in that they do not want to be involved in a medical malpractice claim. Claims are tiresome both physically and emotionally for doctors. Physician’s who receive malpractice claims that are defended by their medical malpractice insurance company, often receive premium increases at renewal as they lose claim free credit or receive a debit on their premium.

Risk management programs go much deeper than just having an awareness of the subject. Proper medical chart keeping, and well used and documented protocols between physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and medical staff are an important part. Failure to timely diagnose a medical condition is one of the most common claims that can often be avoided through proper risk management.  Successful risk management programs stress open communication between doctors, surgeons and other medical healthcare providers and their patients, encourage careful documentation, promote the development of technical and diagnostic skills, and eliminate problem areas in a physician practice.

Physicians who complete risk management courses offered by their medical liability insurance carrier also have a better chance of being renewed by that carrier in the event of negative outcomes.  As an example, let’s assume there are two physicians with the exact same claims history who are both being considered for non-renewal.  One physician has never completed risk management coursework offered by the medical malpractice insurance carrier.  The other physician takes advantage of the risk management coursework every year and maximizes the risk management credit.  Many medical malpractice insurance companies will take that into consideration and continue to offer coverage to the physician who attempts to reduce risk.

Underwriters within the medical malpractice insurance companies want to insure physicians who are determined to reduce their risk of malpractice claims and want to work hand in hand with the risk management department of their medical liability insurance carrier. Physicians who have not utilized a thorough risk management plan might be surprised by the significant savings that they can realize immediately on their premium and the ability to avoid the hassle of future medical malpractice insurance claims.