Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance: It Could Save Your Career and Finances
A malpractice lawsuit originally brought to court in 2019 and finally decided only last month in Minnesota has brought a huge amount of attention to the topic of malpractice insurance once again. This is because of the eye-popping $111 million dollar judgment awarded to a 25-year-old college student after they suffered permanent damage to their leg from a surgery conducted at St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates.
The Star Tribune, a local Minnesota newspaper, reports the following about this case:
A federal jury in Minneapolis has awarded a college student more than $111 million in damages — possibly the largest award of its kind in Minnesota history — after finding that negligent care of his injured leg after surgery led to extreme pain and permanent disability.
The paper went on to say that the injured party, Anuj Thapa, was originally hurt while playing in a soccer match. His leg was badly broken after being tackled by another player on the field. He received emergency surgery to try to correct the issue and was discharged from the hospital the same day. Unfortunately, Thapa would return just a few days later in incredible pain. A different doctor would work with Thapa on this visit and discover that he had “acute compartment syndrome.” Since that time, the patient has had to receive more than a dozen surgeries, and his lawyer says that his client has difficulty walking at all.
The Urgent Need to Secure a Malpractice Insurance
What the story above should tell you is that there are shocking instances of malpractice that lead to massive payouts by juries. The doctors, nurses, physicians, physician’s assistants, and others who are responsible for the care of a patient can all be on the hook both for economic damages as well as to the possibility of having their licenses to practice medicine revoked. At the very least, a major lawsuit can do massive damage to one’s reputation and ability to find stable work going forward. It is clearly a crisis situation that all medical professionals need to pay careful attention to if they want to avoid the same fate that the facility in Minnesota is currently coping with.
A physician assistant contract attorney will tell you that the need for malpractice insurance is so great that all PA’s should request at least some coverage to be included in the contract that they sign to begin working at a specific facility.
Secure a PA Malpractice Insurance
People frequently think of doctors and nurses needing plenty of malpractice insurance, but they don’t always take into account that physician’s assistants may require it as well. The truth is, anyone who comes in contact with the patient at any point in the duration of their care may require it. Other areas of interest include:
What is Covered in a Malpractice Insurance Policy?
Every insurance policy has its own unique specifications regarding what is covered and what isn’t. That said, there are some general guidelines that apply to most policies and situations. One should look carefully to ensure that at least the basics are covered so they don’t assume that they have more policy coverage than they really do.
A malpractice policy will generally cover the settlement costs associated with a lawsuit brought against you or the practice where you work. In fact, many insurance companies will push to get a case settled as quickly as possible. They don’t want to deal with a case on their books, and they certainly see the value of disposing of the case as rapidly as possible. This may NOT be in your best interests though, and you should speak with your attorney about what you can do if there is pressure on you to settle your case out of court.
Punitive and Compensatory Damages
A court may rule that you need to pay punitive and/or compensatory damages to the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Punitive damages are monies that must be paid as a punishment for the negligent actions taken by a guilty party. Compensatory damages are merely the damages that are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the damages that they suffered as a result of the malpractice. Your insurance policy should cover the cost of both types of penalties regardless of what kind of penalties are levied against you.
Attorney’s Fees and Court Costs
The charges brought against you in a malpractice case are serious, and this is why you will want to have a competent attorney to represent you in court. Many people simply cannot afford such an attorney, but their malpractice policy should cover the cost of an adequate attorney to represent you. The policy should also cover any associated court costs that you may incur as well.
Can I Get My Employer to Provide Malpractice Insurance?
There are many reasons for physician’s assistants to have hope about getting their employer to provide relevant malpractice insurance for them. The leading reason is that PA’s are in such high demand right now. The field is projected to grow by 31 percent between 2020 and 2030. However, it also appears likely that there will be a shortage of physician assistants to fill those roles. Thus, the physician assistants who stick around will have major advantages that they can use to negotiate better wages and benefits. Insisting on malpractice insurance coverage is one way that physician’s assistants can make the most of their increased leverage.
Here at Chelle Law, we have physician assistant contract lawyers who can look over the employment offer made by any medical facility to see if it holds up to the expectations of the physician’s assistant who is signing the agreement. If the terms are agreeable to all parties, then everyone can come together and sign the agreement. However, we highly recommend that you have one of our attorneys look it all over first. The last thing in the world that we want to do is put you in a position where you don’t know what you are signing.
How Much Does Tail Insurance Cost for a Physician Assistant? | Malpractice Insurance
Medical Malpractice Tail
Tail insurance covers the gap between when a physician leaves an employer and when the statute of limitations on filing a medical malpractice claim ends.
Professional Liability Insurance
Malpractice coverage is professional liability coverage that helps protect physicians and other medical professionals from financial risks. Associated with lawsuits in which patients believe medical professionals harmed them due to an incident involving medical care.
The coverage depends on how much the policy is worth (premium). Your specialty – personal injury attorneys are more likely to take cases against physicians working in hospitals. That is, than those who practice family medicine or internal medicine in private practice.
Should a Physician Assistant Choose Claims Made or Occurrence Insurance? | Insurance Coverage
Should a PA choose an occurrence-based policy or a claims-made malpractice policy? First, if you are working for an employer, there will be a policy that covers you for PA malpractice insurance. And if you’re working for a smaller physician-owned group or a private practice, there are going to be two types of insurance, either claims made or an occurrence-based policy. If you’re working for a big hospital network or hospital, nowadays, most of them are self-insured and therefore you won’t have to worry about the underlying premium or any kind of tail cost after the fact. It’ll all be rolled into their self-insurance program.
A claims-made policy means a policy must be in effect when the claim is made. You could leave an employer, so the agreement is terminated, but someone could sue you after the fact. Now for most states, there’s a two-year statute of limitations. That just means a limit on when somebody can sue someone. There are some exceptions that I’m not going to get into. Think of it as the last day that you worked for the employer, and then two years later, you must have a policy that covers the gap in between the two. And that’s called tail insurance. Now, tail can vary in length. You could choose a one-year, two-year, three-year, five-year, or indefinite policy. It wouldn’t make any sense if you were paying for the tail insurance to have a shorter amount than whatever the statute of limitations is in the state where you were working.
If you have an occurrence-based policy, you do not need tail insurance. It simply means the policy has to be in effect when the malpractice actually occurred. The difference between the two and therefore you might want to choose one over the other is that an occurrence-based policy is about a third more expensive per year than a claims-made policy. However, even though you’re paying a third less for a claims-made policy, you’re going to have twice what your annual premium cost is, to pay for the tail insurance. Most of the time, the PA is not going to have the option of purchasing one or the other. If you’re working as an employee, they’re just going to say, this is the policy that we’re going to provide to you.
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