Protect Your Career with Medical Liability Insurance
You have invested a lot to become a pediatrician. You need adequate, continuous medical liability coverage to protect your career.
Professional liability insurance in the medical field is commonly referred to as medical liability or malpractice insurance. It protects you from having to bear the full cost of a payout for a medical liability claim.
Malpractice insurance is essential and something every pediatrician should have and understand, regardless of whether you or your employer are paying for it. It must be adequate to cover pediatric malpractice indemnity payments, defense costs and be continuous with no gaps between jobs.
Facts About Pediatric Malpractice Claims
Being familiar with the current malpractice lawsuit environment is vital. It empowers you to understand a critically important financial and stress-inducing aspect of practice. Nearly two-thirds of pediatricians state that they were not taught anything about medical malpractice during residency. Understanding the ins and outs of medical liability insurance, the relative risks of malpractice claims and how to mitigate them can be used to impact practice operations, and influence quality and safety efforts.
- One in five pediatricians is sued for malpractice once over the course of a career.
- One in 10 is sued for care provided during residency.
- 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.
- 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.
That's why 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, get 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 in your liability insurance policy. Sometimes volunteer work, moonlighting, sexual harassment claims, HIPAA violation claims require separate policies or riders to a policy.
- Know the difference between occurrence policies and claims-made policies and how they work and whether you'll need "tail" insurance.
- 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 cost? Failing to negotiate for tail insurance is an expensive mistake.
American Academy of Pediatrics