It’s Time for Equal Rights
It’s possible I’m about to open up a whole can of worms with this post, but nonetheless, the very subject of equal rights is important. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh boy, he’s about to get political.” Nope, not the case. I’m not going to be talking about what’s going on in the nation. What I am going to address is something that’s going on in the medical field — more specifically, medical malpractice rights for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician’s Assistants (PAs).
Let’s start with a question. If you’re an NP or PA (even if you’re not…go ahead and guess), do you believe you share the same medical malpractice protections as the physicians who work alongside you or your organization as a whole? I’d venture to guess that most who answered that question think, “Yes!” It only seems right. However, the answer is more than likely “No.” Ouch.
The industry standard is to provide individual protection to each physician and the employing organization. NPs and PAs are typically “lumped” into a limit that’s expressly intended to cover the employer as the insured. To break it down, in a vast majority of cases, NPs and PAs aren’t on a plan that gives them individual protection should a medical malpractice suit arise. Why does this matter? With the industry standard:
- NPs and PAs share in one limit of insurance with the organization and all other non-physician employees. What if that limit is exhausted in someone else’s malpractice claim?
- NPs and PAs don’t get their own attorney in cases (physicians/employers do). This means NPs and PAs lose control over what may be the most stressful situation in their professional life. What if the party bringing a medical malpractice suit or your employer wants to settle and you don’t?
I bring this up because if you’re an NP or PA, it’s important you know the type of medical malpractice coverage you have in place. If you aren’t sure, here are some questions I always like to ask:
- Do you share limits with any other healthcare providers?
- Does a potential settlement require your consent?
- Will your attorney’s loyalty be shared between you and your employer?
- Will your coverage follow you if you transition to a new job?
- Do you have tail coverage?
- Do you have access to online risk management and risk mitigation resources?
- Does coverage apply to medical services outside your scope of employment?
The answers to those questions are critical. Think about it. You’ve invested a great deal of time and effort in your professional medical career. You’ve worked hard to develop a promising reputation. But always keep in mind Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will.” What this means is that despite your best efforts, an adverse outcome can occur. I don’t want to sound negative; I just want you prepared.
I’m going to end with this information, as I think it’s important we all know the facts. As more and more mid-level providers (NPs/PAs) are introduced to our healthcare system and their scope of practice continues to expand, professional liability insurance carriers are expecting to see increased claims activity. In other words, the exposure to medical malpractice claims and litigation will mirror the increasing population and scope of practice. These claims will likely include allegations of medical treatment below the required standard of care. The criticisms will focus on the care provided, medical decision making, treatment, and/or failure to treat. Mid-level providers may be individually named in a lawsuit in addition to the hospital, physicians, and others providing treatment to the patient. If you find yourself in this position, what are you going to do?
We believe it’s time for equal rights for NPs and PAs to gain greater control and protection, so reach out to us to find out how you can get on equal ground with your medical counterparts. The answer may be in four words…individual professional liability policy. We’d love to talk with you about this policy, answer questions you may have, and discuss the situation you’re in. Either comment below or reach out to us directly. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Published on: 03.02.17