Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, paramedic or any other kind of medical staff, you have the ability to make a positive impact on the health and lives of many people on a daily basis. But with this opportunity also comes a certain amount of responsibility, and it is an unfortunate fact of modern society that when medical staff fail to perform to the best of their abilities, they are often subjected to claims for compensation by patients and their families.
If medical staff were forced to pay these compensation claims themselves, their ability to provide effective healthcare could suffer considerably, as they could become too afraid to take calculated risks which might save a life or otherwise improve a patient’s condition. Fortunately medical negligence insurance makes it possible for doctors and other frontline medical staff to do their jobs without worrying unduly about the negative financial repercussions should they make an unfortunate mistake.
Medical malpractice claims
A medical malpractice claim can arise in any situation in which a medical professional provides care and this is deemed to have caused the patient to suffer further hardship, injury or loss. This could be in the setting of a hospital, GP practice, health centre or other medical establishment, or it could be in a public place in which an off-duty doctor or nurse has provided emergency care in a so-called ‘good Samaritan act’.
Medical malpractice claims and the NHS
If you are employed by the NHS then you should be covered against any claims made against you relating to your working hours. This year the NHS put aside £26bn to cover the cost of medical malpractice claims made against the health service, with all such claims being underwritten by taxpayers via the Clinical Negligence scheme for Trusts.
However, such workplace insurance does not normally cover you for incidents that you may be called upon to deal with outside of your normal working hours and environment. For example, if you provide emergency medical care to someone suffering a heart attack in a restaurant and it is later deemed by them or by their relatives that you acted negligently, the NHS’ insurance would not cover you.
To protect yourself against being held financially liable in such an eventuality you might consider taking out your own medical negligence insurance which will cover you outside of your working hours.
Protecting your private practice or medical firm from malpractice claims
If you have your own private practice or run a medical firm of any size, you should make it a priority to have robust medical negligence insurance which is suited to your specific needs and activities.
There are many different situations in which patients receiving private medical care or their families may pursue a claim for compensation against you or your organisation. For example if an operation is deemed to have been ‘botched’ and results in negative medical or psychological consequences; if it is felt by relatives that the care given to a patient wasn’t sufficient, or if a patient suffers an infection or other condition while in care.
All private medical firms then should take steps to make sure that their insurance covers them against all such eventualities.
For many medical staff, the Medical Indemnity Register (which we recently acquired) is the first port of call for medical malpractice insurance. The MIR has been providing insurance for all types of medical personnel for more than thirty years, and can provide the policy and the advice you need to allow you to go about your work with confidence.
Marc Loud is a partner at Park Insurance, for over 30 years of experience who cover a range of specialist sectors including medical insurance.