Are you in the medical and healthcare industry? It’s safe to say you have a unique set of challenges and risks, such as medical malpractice.
Well, whilst medical malpractice may never occur in your workplace or practice, it’s important to know what it is and why you may need it, in the unfortunate event that it does.
Read on to find out.
What is Medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or another allied health professional, through either a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. These faults often result through errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or inadequate health management. This also includes human error from staff such as privacy breaches.
Patient(s), doctor(s), allied health professional(s), (dentists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, midwives, etc.), and insurance companies.
Think your local GP or surgery day clinics and a patient requiring healthcare assistance.
In these situations, lawyers are usually involved, and then, of course, insurance. This is where we come in.
Read on to find out about Medical malpractice Insurance and why you need to consider it.
Understanding Medical malpractice insurance
Now that you know what medical malpractice is, it’s important to know what the insurance policy actually does.
Essentially, a Medical malpractice Insurance policy exists to protect businesses (entities) for their healthcare service provisions. As a medical professional, your individual and business needs can be met, with the best possible outcome for those involved.
- Covers claims resulting in professional exposures such as errors or omissions from practice staff, reception and nurses.
- Provides legal costs to defend a claim against the Practice Cover where a clinic has contributed to negligence in conjunction with a medical practitioner.
- Covers claims where a doctor is found to be negligent and the Practice is brought into a claim as a joint defendant.
Practising medical practitioners in Australia must have personal medical indemnity insurance.
Professional Indemnity Insurance generally will not cover your practice entity or employees, so a separate policy will be required for this.
What are some examples of medical malpractice?
Let’s take a look:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose – e.g. failing to diagnose or inform a patient that they have cancer, or telling a patient they have a common cold virus when tests show pneumonia.
- Unnecessary surgery – operating on a patient where the risks far outweigh the benefits.
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory test results – e.g. going back to the scenario of telling a patient that they have a common cold virus and not pneumonia.
- Premature discharge – this is pretty self-explanatory. You wouldn’t discharge a mother and her baby within the hour of giving birth!
- Poor follow-up/aftercare – Imagine someone experiences frequent urinary tract infections and is resistant to a number of antibiotics. It would not only be negligent for their health care professional to not diagnose and treat the condition, but also not follow up for a review to see if the treatment is working.
Is the medical malpractice claim justifiable?
A patient may think they have a claim for medical malpractice – but can it be legally substantiated?
Perhaps they think they experienced unnecessary surgery, or a misdiagnosis is causing them long-term health repercussions and/or mental anguish. As a medical professional and/or entity you will need to justify your duty of care actioning if accused of medical malpractice.
Whatever your circumstance, it’s vital that a claim is substantiated for it to be proven as medical malpractice.
What a claim must include:
- A violation of the standard of care
- Negligence causing injury
- The injury caused significant damages.
Doctors and healthcare professionals have a duty of care to their patients.
Medical administrators, although not performing the healthcare themselves, have a duty to follow privacy practices. Why? To ensure medical and personal information is not leaked to third parties without express consent from the patient.
Now, remember – breach of privacy is medical malpractice too.
The 4 D’s of medical malpractice:
- Duty – lack of duty of care, patient-physician respect and/or inability to transfer to another specialist if expectations are not being met.
- Dereliction – negligence or deviation from the standard of care.
- Damages – evidence (medical record, prescriptions, etc.) leads to physical or emotional suffering.
- Direct cause – must be proven that there is a direct cause between physician or injury. For example, poor application of a cast causing a broken leg not to heal.
Did you know that bodily injury is not the only injury medical malpractice insurance will cover? Mental anguish can be a claim too. This is similar to an emotional distress claim in a personal injury lawsuit, where the damage is non-economic (damage to property or physical injury), but affects the plaintiff psychologically.
Once a claim is deemed justifiable (in incorporating all the above points) – it’s time to navigate the process to accountability and compensation.
How Grace Insurance can help
At Grace Insurance, your local insurance broker near you in Joondalup, Wangara, Malaga, Ocean Reef and Whitfords. We customise personal insurance solutions for medical professionals, just like you.
Together with our medical insurance partner, we can help cover you with medical malpractice insurance (also known as medical professional liability insurance). We can also guide you with your insurance needs. Along with this, we can assist with any insurance claims relating to (potential) medical malpractice as a Doctor/Practice.
Grace insurance provides peace of mind, transparency and choice. Utilising an expert medico-legal team, we empower informed choices with unparalleled quality.
Medical malpractice is often thought of as a dark tunnel of ‘what-ifs’ or ‘what-could-be’s.’ It’s vital to understand the (mal)practice, and know that if it happens to you, you’re not alone.
Whether you’re an allied healthcare professional, business entity or doctor, it’s not unwarranted to insure yourself, your business, and know what medical malpractice insurance policies entail to protect you now and in the future.
At Grace Insurance, we’re your trusted business partners in insurance. Situated in the northern suburbs of Perth, we’ll take care of your insurance needs.
Contact us to see how we can help you today with Medical Malpractice Insurance today.