All medical professionals should have a good malpractice policy in place, including nurses. A lot of nurses think they are immune from malpractice claims; after all, it is doctors who are most commonly sued, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Nurses can be sued for malpractice as well, and a nurse who is not protected by a nursing liability insurance policy is in danger of losing his or her career and even being forced into bankruptcy.
Malpractice is defined as damage or injury to a patient that is the result of misconduct, negligence or breach of duty on the part of a professional in charge of the patient’s care. There are many reasons a nurse might be sued for malpractice, but the most common reasons include failure to follow standards of care, failure to communicate, failure to use equipment responsibly, failure to assess and monitor, failure to document and failure to act as patient advocate.
No professional would ever deliberately commit any of these acts, but everyone is human and everyone makes an occasional mistake. Nor do any of these offenses have to actually be committed; groundless lawsuits are filed every day. An accusation may be untrue, but that does not mean the accused will not have to pay to defend the lawsuit.
Nurse malpractice insurance protects the policyholder from having to pay the cost of defending a malpractice suit. It also ensures that the defendant will not have to pay any judgments. A nurse that is not covered by malpractice insurance will have to pay both of these expenses out of pocket. Defense costs alone can force many people into bankruptcy; paying a judgment is even more ruinous.
These problems can all be prevented by the purchase of a simple insurance policy. Like all forms of insurance, the cost of nursing liability insurance often varies due to the insured’s background, location and years of experience. Malpractice insurance also has a deductible and a limit to coverage, just like automotive or homeowner’s insurance. The policyholder can select the limits and deductible that is right for him or her. Naturally, the policy’s premium will change accordingly. The average cost of malpractice insurance for nurses is only a few hundred dollars per year. This isn’t a lot of money compared to the peace of mind that results from being insured and not having to worry about the consequences of a lawsuit.
Robert Hauser writes about financial planning, risk management and liability insurance for professionals