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Should I Carry Malpractice (Liability) Insurance?

Malpractice (liability) insurance is the Nurse’s advocate as it provides essential legal and financial security. Many Nurses go bare and never really consider Liability insurance as important. Just as many think, I’m not a Doctor , or, I’ve never known a Nurse to be sued , or, It costs too much , or, I’ll take my chances; it’s too much trouble . For whatever reason you may have, just be sure you are well informed before you make any final decisions about your future.

This question comes up frequently and is asked of me quite often, should I carry malpractice protection ?

What is malpractice?

Simply put, it is a failure to adhere to a standard of care or conduct by a professional such as a Physician, Nurse, Attorney, etc. Malpractice occurs when it can be proven that the professional had a duty to provide a standard of care/conduct, breached that duty. an injury or damage resulted, and the injury/damage was caused by the breach.

No matter how educated, confident, and careful the Nurse is, unintentional mistakes can and will happen. Accidents will occur. And, unfortunately, willful neglect can be an issue. Injury and death very often are the results of mistakes, accidents, and neglect. Families want to know what happened. Even in the best scenario, the Nurse feels embarrassed and ultimately fears what the damage could do to a perfect professional reputation. Nurses must have the option of protecting their professional reputations and personal assets. Having individual liability insurance is a smart solution.

Nurses will often make the following statement,

“My employer covers me so I don’t need my own malpractice/liability policy” .

Yes, your employer’s policy may cover you, but only up to a point. Remember: Your employer’s policy is created to fit their specific needs and protects them first. You may even be told (by your employer HR) that you do not need your own policy. What they do not tell you is that they want you to be represented by their attorneys. They do not want outside representation for they know that their best interests will not be first and foremost.

All malpractice liability insurance policies have limits of liability. If you are only covered by your employer’s insurance, other defendants employed at your entity may and probably do share your liability limits under the same policy. If you, as well as others, are named in a suit, your legal costs, including any settlement, could exceed your employer’s shared liability limits. This would mean out-of-pocket expenses for you.

“What type of policy and how much coverage do I need as a Nurse?”

These are questions that are very important when considering a policy.

There are two popular types of policies that are purchased:

  • Occurrence-based – any covered incident occurring while the policy is in effect even if the policy is now canceled and/or you have retired
  • Claims-made – any covered incident only while the policy is in effect

The cost of a policy is economical and reasonable. For example, the annual premium could cover the first hour billed by Attorney. $1,000,000/$6,000,000 coverage premiums are approximate $100/year in most states for the Registered Nurse (RN) as well as for the Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN).
The following links are sites of interest:

  1. Affordable Medical Malpractice Program (aMMP)
  2. American Nurses Association
  3. Nurses Service Organization

One major benefit of an individual policy that is often overlooked or taken for granted when considering coverage is license protection. Nurses need to be aware that this will extend beyond their employer’s coverage and includes discipline issues that can be brought up by the individual Nurse’s Board of Nursing (BON). Many Nurses do not have the financial ability to go against the BON, therefore, license protection is a must.

Another all-important beneficial consideration is that policies normally will include coverage regarding libel, slander and patient confidentiality, including HIPAA issues. These issues can be troublesome and include a great cost for the Nurse.

Finally, a common statement that is incorrect and based on myth is,

“Malpractice liability insurance will make me a target and I’ll be named in a lawsuit.”

When being named in a lawsuit, no one knows you have your own personal policy unless you have revealed this information. Only after a lawsuit is filed and only during the period of the discovery phase is this information available.

So, do you carry your own individual malpractice/liability insurance? In the end, the question of whether or not the Nurse should carry malpractice/liability insurance is a personal one and should be seriously considered.

The peace of mind knowing that you are covered is overwhelming.

The peace of overwhelming reassurance.

Last edit by Joe V on Jun 29, ’17

That’s really interesting, I honestly haven’t put much thought into that. So sirI at what point would you recommend that we look into malpractice insurance? I am still a student but I want to be prepared for these kind of things ahead of time.

Like VickyRN said, I, too, advise my students to secure personal/individual liability insurance. But, I advise them to purchase while still a student.

With NSO, these rates are around $29 /year for 1,000,000/6,000,000 coverage. It is rare a nursing student is successfully sued, but they are named in lawsuits. It is, as I pointed out, a small fee for peace of mind.

May 15, ’09 by donsterRN. BSN, RN

This is excellent information to have!

My program briefly discussed malpractice insurance with us, but no one (to the best of my memory) actually made recommendations. My nursing journals always have the NSO insurance application at the front of the magazine, but I honestly never really paid much attention. You can bet I will now. As a matter of fact, I’ll complete an app today. It’s well worth it not to worry about it.