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8 Pros and Cons of Nurse Malpractice Insurance
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
There is nothing worse than being accused of something without having done anything wrong. Still, unfortunately, this happens all too often in the medical field. If you are a nurse, chances are you have at least considered purchasing some form of malpractice insurance for some legal protection. After all, it is not uncommon for nurses to face lawsuits from patients, but do you know what are the pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance? Nurse malpractice insurance is a great way to protect yourself against damages you may cause while on the job. However, there are definitely some cons that come with it. In this article, we will take a look at the top 8 pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not if buying it is right for you!
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What is Nurse Malpractice Insurance?
Malpractice insurance for nurses is a very controversial topic. It seems like half of all nurses think malpractice insurance is a good idea, and the other half would rather not pay for it. Nurse malpractice insurance claims that it will be an extra layer of protection for nurses, and additionally protect their license and credentialing. It also claims to provide additional financial security in the event of a lawsuit resulting from negligence or errors committed during nursing practice.
Many employers will cover their employees under their own malpractice insurance, but quite a few will not. It will vary by the state you work in. In this case, nurses will need to look into getting their own policy if they want protection from the costs of a lawsuit. Many insurance companies will provide nurses with different types of coverage that are specific to the kind of work the nurse does. Some offer coverage for the cost of legal defense as well. In contrast, others pay out specific amounts to patients in the event that negligence results in an adverse outcome. Although this type of insurance used to only be available to nurses who worked at hospitals, it is now offered by many other types of health care employers.
TOP CONS OF NURSE MALPRACTICE INSURANCE
(The following are the top 8 disadvantages of Nurse Malpractice Insurance.)
1. It will cost you money
Obtaining private malpractice insurance does not come free. One of the cons of nurse malpractice insurance is that it will be an added cost for something you probably will not need. Malpractice insurance for nurses will cost you anywhere from $500 to a couple of thousand dollars a year, depending on the state you practice in as well as the role you are in. If you think about it, you may just be throwing money away each month. You could be spending this money on other things, like a nice pair of shoes or a fancy vacation.
2. It is another bill you will have to remember to pay.
Let's face it, trying to remember to pay any bill on time is challenging, and it is even harder to remember to pay a bill that comes once every three months as your malpractice insurance will. It can easily be forgotten. If you do not take a proactive approach, you could find yourself without any insurance coverage at all because you forgot to pay it. You could be going through life thinking you have the best coverage, but it could be useless if you do not pay the bill.
3. You may need to pay more depending on your role and where you work.
Depending on your role as a nurse in healthcare, one of the top disadvantages of nurse malpractice insurance is that you could find yourself paying more for malpractice insurance. For instance, if you are a nurse practitioner
or a certified nurse anesthetist
, you can be paying a lot more than a bedside nurse because you essentially are in a higher-risk position. You may also find that you will have higher premiums if you work in specific units or areas of the hospital. These higher premium units can include operating rooms, intensive care units, labor and delivery, and psychiatry wards. Other factors that determine how much you will pay for insurance are your previous discipline history, the number of years of experience you have in nursing, and what region of the country you live in.
4. Having your own malpractice insurance is overkill.
So, having your own private nurse malpractice insurance may be a bit overkill. I mean, sure, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes every now and again, but the hospital will cover you under their policy. I mean, can you get any better than the insurance that a healthcare facility can provide to you? Also, it is free!
5. You may need to add on costly riders.
Insurance companies will often offer riders for nurses. A rider is a type of insurance that you can add to an original policy. It will provide extra coverage and protection for items not included in the original insurance contract. The cost of riders can add up making it one of the biggest disadvantages of nurse malpractice insurance. To think about it, are they even necessary.
6. Carrying your own malpractice insurance may encourage a plaintiff to name you in a lawsuit.
One of the pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance is that yes, you will have coverage if something happens, but having malpractice insurance may encourage a plaintiff to name you in a lawsuit. This is because they may be inclined to believe you can afford your own defense and settlement, as well as the plaintiffs. The plaintiff may attempt to win their suit and be rewarded with funds. Your insurance covers the entire payout, with no legal repercussions for them.
7. Your employer could file a lawsuit against you.
If you have your own malpractice insurance, your employer may sue you after defending you in a suit. One of the cons of nurse malpractice insurance is that your employer may sue you for the damages they had to payout in court. They may want to recoup what they lost monetarily when their malpractice insurance defended you. If you have your own malpractice insurance, this may be the perfect way for them to do this and recoup their losses. If you do not have your own private nurse malpractice insurance, they know they will not get much in damages reimbursed. This will make your employer more reluctant to sue you for malpractice when they are not able to recoup the money that it cost them for their own malpractice insurance to defend you.
8. You may think you are more covered than you really are.
Having your own malpractice insurance may sound great, but you may not have the coverage you think you do. Your plan may have many limitations, which could essentially make the plan worthless when you need it. For example, some plans will only cover certain types of malpractice, such as medical/surgical or hospital errors. Some plans do not cover claims made against you by family members. Some plans will have caps on how much they will reimburse the medical professional for their claim.
TOP PROS OF NURSE MALPRACTICE INSURANCE
(The following are the top 8 advantages of Nurse Malpractice Insurance.)
1. You will pay a small fee for your peace of mind.
Having peace of mind is priceless. Nurse malpractice insurance will protect you and your license should you be named in a lawsuit. Nurse malpractice insurance will provide you with a legal defense. More importantly, your insurer will retain counsel for you, which is the most critical part of having coverage. You will be able to rest a bit easier in your day-to-day life knowing you have the protection of nurse malpractice insurance. One of the pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance that you will need to think about is if the cost will be worth the protection. I mean as far as I am concerned I think it is totally worth it.
2. You will protect your assets and license.
Do you own a home? Do you own a car? These are essential assets that can be taken away from you if someone decides to sue you in court, especially as a nurse who is responsible for the care of others. Malpractice
insurance will protect these assets and others you may have. Malpractice insurance will also cover your nursing license in the event that you need to defend it. Not everyone needs insurance, but if you have a home and car as well as a nursing license, it would make sense to pay the nominal amount for this vital coverage.
3. You will be able to cover legal fees and lost wages.
Let's say that you are named in a lawsuit. You may be taken off duty until the lawsuit has been concluded. You may not be paid during this time. Your creditors will not put your bills on hold. You could end up in a good amount of debt. This is where your malpractice insurance comes in handy. One of the biggest advantages of nurse malpractice insurance is that your legal fees and lost wages will be covered. Malpractice insurance is an essential part of your nursing career; your professional liability coverage will help you in times of need.
4. You will be covered for your students if you work in academia
One of the top pros of nurse malpractice insurance is that carrying your own malpractice insurance can undoubtedly give you peace of mind especially if you are fostering and educating the newer generation of nurses. Suppose you work in academia and take students into the hospital setting for their practicum experience, and the student makes a mistake. Are you covered for that mistake the student made? Yes, if you have the proper malpractice insurance in place. Most plans will allow you to add extra coverage for this purpose. You can rest easier knowing you have a bit of a security blanket.
5. You will have the ultimate protection with nurse malpractice insurance.
If an error occurs in the healthcare setting and the nurse is sued for malpractice
, what happens to the nurse? A popular misconception is that hospitals provide insurance for their employees and everything will be fine. However, if an error occurs in the healthcare setting and the nurse is sued for malpractice, the hospital may investigate to determine if the nurse has followed the institution’s policies and procedures. If it is determined that the nurse strayed from these guidelines, well, you may be on your own then. If you have your own malpractice insurance, you will have coverage for any event that may come your way. One of the top pros of nurse malpractice insurance is that you will always have security no matter what comes your way.
6. You will be legally protected while advancing your degree.
Suppose you wanted to go back to school in order to earn an advanced degree. In that case, the educational institution will not cover you if a lawsuit should arise. For example, suppose a nurse who is currently in school incorrectly inserts a tube into someone's nose and the patient dies because of it. In that case, the school you attend will not pay your defense fees even if you were just following procedures. This is where you would totally benefit from malpractice insurance.
8. You will have legal protection if you need to provide care outside of the healthcare institution.
The malpractice insurance that a healthcare institution provides you with will only cover you inside the institution that you work. So, what if something happens outside of the healthcare institution. What if you need to provide bystander CPR and you break somebody's rib? Maybe you will not be sued, but what if you are? One of the advantages of nurse malpractice insurance is that if you have coverage, well, then it is no big deal. You will be protected.
My Final Thoughts
If you are a nurse, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is whether or not to purchase malpractice insurance. So, what are the pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance? As you have seen from this article, there are many pros and cons that can weigh heavily on your decision-making process. The top 8 pros and cons of nurse malpractice insurance that I have armed you with will hopefully help make the decision an easy one for you. Nurse malpractice insurance can be complicated to understand. That is why all nurses must educate themselves on the issue to make an informed decision about their professional future.
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.