Pediatric Medical Liability Insurance Is Essential 

Professional liability insurance in the medical field is commonly referred to as medical liability or malpractice insurance. It protects the physician from having to bear the full cost of a payout for medical liability and defense costs of a malpractice suit.  

Malpractice insurance is essential and something every pediatrician should have and be aware of, regardless of whether you or your employer are paying for it. It must be adequate to cover pediatric malpractice indemnity payments and be continuous with no gaps between jobs  

Facts About Pediatric Malpractice Claims 

Most physicians’ perception of their threat of malpractice is based on three factors: the risk of a claim, the probability of a claim leading to a payment and the size of the indemnity payment (settlement or award).    

  • Pediatricians are not sued as frequently as other specialists. Only 3.1% of pediatricians face a malpractice claim in a given year compared to 19.1% of neurosurgeons, who experience the most claims. 
  • One in five pediatric malpractice claims results in some form of indemnity payment (settlement or award). 
  • The severity of indemnity payment for pediatrics claims is high compared to other specialties. Although neurosurgeons are several times more likely to be sued, their average malpractice indemnity payment is $344,000, compared to $521,000 for pediatricians. Although indemnity payments in excess of $1 million are rare (less than 1% of all payments), the specialties most commonly accounting for those payments are obstetrics/gynecology, pathology, anesthesiology, and pediatrics. 

For these reasons having adequate and continuous medical liability insurance coverage is essential. Even if employers pay for the medical liability insurance, pediatricians need to understand what is and isn’t covered and what happens after their employment ends (is tail insurance necessary and if so, who pays for it?). You could still be sued after you have left a place of employment and need to make sure you are covered.  

Tips for Pediatricians 

  • Ensure that coverage amounts are adequate. Most pediatric policies are $1 million per claim/$3 million for aggregate claims in a year. But, if you are in a highly litigious area, you may need more coverage.  
  • Always keep your own records of the following: certificate number of insurance policy and type of policy (occurrence versus claims-made policy). If your hospital or institution is self-insured, receive and keep a letter certifying your past malpractice coverage and the particulars of that coverage. Keep this information throughout your career to demonstrate that there have been no gaps in your malpractice insurance coverage.  
  • Understand what is and is not covered. Sometimes volunteer work, moonlighting, gender harassment claims require separate policies or riders to a policy.  
  • Know the difference between occurrence policies and claims-made policies and how they work. 
  • If your employer is paying for your medical liability insurance, make sure that you understand what happens after your employment ends. For example, is tail insurance necessary and if so, will you or your employer cover the costFailing to negotiate for tail insurance is an expensive mistake. 
  • Obtain a copy of the medical liability insurance from your employer or practice and keep it in a secure location. You’ll always want to know who covered you, for how much and under what terms for your entire practice. 

You have invested a lot to become a pediatrician. You need adequate, continuous medical liability coverage to protect your career.   

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American Academy of Pediatrics