by Maggie Ortiz MSN RN
Nurses who practice at the bedside are usually not informed about medical malpractice insurance and what it means and what it will cover. There is a culture in the nursing profession that if you have malpractice insurance "they will go after you," and or "nurses don't get sued." These are all false and can cost a nurse lots of money and stress. You wouldn't drive a car off the lot if you did not have it insurance why would you practice, literally having people's lives in your hands, and not have insurance to protect your most valued possession - YOUR PROFESSIONAL LICENSE.
Healthcare and the increasing sicker and sicker populations that we treat places healthcare professionals in a position of patients having bad outcomes. These outcomes may have nothing to do with the care that you provided but does not mean that you will not be named in a legal suit. This can be one of the most stressful events that a healthcare practitioner may ever experience in their professional career. Nurses need to understand that they are the low hanging fruit and that organizations and or other healthcare professionals will NOT run to their defense and why every nurse from LVN to NP should have malpractice insurance. It's like car and or home insurance you get it and pray you never need it.
What is medical malpractice insurance and why should an RN have it? Medical malpractice insurance is a form of specialized professional liability insurance that covers the policy holders practice. Medical liability insurance is required in some states and why you should also know your states laws when holding a professional license. This type of insurance will cover you in a civil case and or an administrative case. Nurses and healthcare professionals who are involved in a civil case are often times reported to their respective boards as well further increasing the financial and emotional burden of the provider. If the provider has insurance then these lawyers both civil and administrative are covered per the policy that the healthcare professional selected.
There is a misconception that only advance practice nurses and or physicians and hospitals get sued and that is just not true. Anyone involved in patient care can be sued and that's the bottom line. What most nurses do not know and or understand is that if you are reported to the board of nursing due to actions your organization does NOT cover getting you an Administrative lawyer to defend your license. Usually if you are reported to the board of nursing you also lose your job further making it difficult to afford the cost of an attorney. Administrative lawyers can cost a nurse $300- $1000 an hour with a required retainer of several thousand to get started. Board of nursing cases can take 2-3 years to resolve sometimes.
Human error is real and can happen along the spectrum of a patient's care. Consider the setting you work in and if you provide direct patient care as to whether you should invest in medical malpractice insurance. Do you work in a high risk environment and or specialty? Then you might want to do research on your own into medical malpractice coverage and how it can protect your license. Does your facility and or organization have coverage and will it cover you? Those are all questions that nurses should be asking their employer and ensuring that they understand what is and not covered by their employer should you be named in a lawsuit while employed with the organization. Do you do local and or travel agency work and what does that agency cover? Nurses need to educate themselves and protect their most valued possession their professional license.
Yes, all nurses need to educate themselves about professional liability insurance. Nurses being named in lawsuits has only increased. Having professional liability insurance provides the nurse with the extra reassurance that their will be a team available to assist in protecting their most prized possession - their professional license. The average cost annually to a nurse is a couple hundred dollars a year and well worth the peace of mind. Again, it's like car and or home insurance PRAY YOU NEVER NEED IT!
by Maggie Ortiz MSN RN