What is Telehealth?

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt everywhere, including the world of malpractice insurance coverage. As the world of healthcare changes, physicians will need to add telehealth services to their standard operations. This comes with an increased risk of malpractice related claims. The first step to understanding your risk is to clarify, what exactly is telehealth?

Telehealth provides patients with a way to seek care from the comfort of their own home. Telehealth uses telecommunications to connect a patient and a provider. Telehealth can include:

  • Talking to your doctor live over the phone or through video chat.
  • Using chat to send messages, emails, or secure medical files
  • Use remote patient monitoring so your doctor can check on you at home. For example, you might use a device to gather ECG or other vitals to help your doctor stay informed on your progress.

In addition to understanding what telehealth is and how it will be used to provide care to patients, physicians must educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding the use of telehealth to treat patients. For example, some states require a physician to see a patient in person before providing any kind of telehealth related care. State laws can also vary on who is responsible for obtaining patient consent, the originating site provider or the treating physician. Always educate yourself of the local and state laws surrounding the use of telehealth to provide care to patients. 

Risks arise when physicians fail to educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding telehealth, but is it equally important to educate yourself on the proper use of telehealth to reduce your legal risk. Providing healthcare using telehealth doesn’t create new risks so much as it creates new opportunities to overlook proper procedures.

For example, consent forms and rules surrounding privacy of patients are two things that pose legal risk to your practice if overlooked. These are not new concepts but the unfamiliar delivery over telecommunication can lead to oversights. Most importantly, experts advise physicians to seek out training in delivering telemedicine services to ensure that they’re not only following the applicable rules, but also so they’re delivering the best possible care in this new setting.

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Protect your practice against the increased risk of claims brought against you due to telehealth in these unprecedented times. Don’t let this changing world overwhelm you, Contact us at CARE today to let us help you find a policy that will cover your needs.

Footnotes:

  1.  https://telehealth.hhs.gov/patients/understanding-telehealth/?gclid=CjwKCAjw5p_8BRBUEiwAPpJO68FZX3Da_gjChDiXfdo069Fer5cu0H6QHOIy9gy6H1Yni0jYOr4U2xoCWM8QAvD_BwE
  2. https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/how-avoid-legal-risks-telemedicine

Medical Malpractice Insurance and the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on life as we knew it. Malpractice insurance is no exception. Liability protection covers physicians and other healthcare professionals against claims made against them or their practice. You may find yourself asking questions in this new uncertain world. In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the lives of healthcare professionals? Is the need for medical malpractice insurance really at an all time high? Below we will explore these questions, and more.

One impact of the pandemic, perhaps the most obvious, is the increased risk to the health of essential workers and healthcare providers on the front lines. These individuals are risking their lives on a daily basis to help protect and save the lives of others. This also means an increased risk of malpractice claims due to the coronavirus. However, this does not excuse healthcare providers from providing adequate and safe care. In medical liability cases, the test is always: Did you comply with the standard of care?

The Center for Disease Control provides guidelines and minimum requirements to limit exposure to the virus, along with other acceptable standards of care. Failure to implement these procedures yourself and among your employees could result in a malpractice claim. Actions could include reminders about proper hand washing procedures, posting clear signage for patients, and training caregivers to remain suspicious for symptoms of the coronavirus.

Failure to provide sufficient protection for your employees who are at risk while handling potentially infected patients can also result in finding yourself battling a hefty medical malpractice claim. Frontline workers who are at risk for infection from patients must be provided proper personal protection equipment (PPE). Examples of PPE used to protect healthcare workers against the coronavirus include gowns, gloves, and facial coverings like face shields and masks. 

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Protect yourself against the increased risk of claims brought against you due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t let this changing world overwhelm you, Contact us at CARE today to let us help you find a policy that will cover your needs.

Footnotes:

  1.  https://www.gregcolemanlaw.com/blog/impact-of-immunity-covid-19-medical-malpractice-claims.html
  2. https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/covid-19-and-malpractice-new-risks-to-watch-for

What Will a Claim Cost You?

Malpractice insurance protects physicians and other healthcare professionals against claims made against them or their practice. When claims are made, a number of questions can come up in an already uncertain time. Claims made can have an impact on your premiums, damage your reputation, and can cost hefty legal fees. Arming yourself with knowledge now can save you a headache later.

Most medical malpractice coverages are written on claims-made forms. These policies cover claims made during the policy period unless you hold additional tail coverage. Claims made before the date of the policy are not covered. This only adds to the importance of acquiring coverage retroactively before an issue arises. 

Medical malpractice insurance covers a range of expenses associated with defending and settling malpractice suits; it also pays damages if you’re found liable. Some covered costs include attorney’s fees and court costs, arbitration costs, settlement costs, punitive and compensatory damages and medical damages. Medical malpractice insurance does not cover any claims that arise from illegal activities such as sexual misconduct, criminal acts or alteration of medical records. 

Policy limits can also have an effect on what a claim will cost you. With medical malpractice insurance, the policy limit is split by the limit paid claim and the limit for all claims during the policy term. For example, your policy may cover $1,000,000 per claim but only up to $3,000,000 for the entire duration of the policy. And oftentimes, the higher the policy limit the more protection you get. Consider this when choosing a policy that’s right for you. 

Possible questions to ask yourself when considering a policy:

  • What is your practice’s history with claims?
  • Is your practice high risk? Do your workers work longer hours? Longer hours can often mean higher risk.
  • Do you anticipate the likelihood of multiple claims during your policy period? 
  • What practice/specialties will need coverage? The types of practices and specialties covered under a policy can have an impact on insurance costs.
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There are a multitude of questions to consider when assessing your personal coverage needs. Don’t be overwhelmed by this when assessing your need for a medical malpractice policy. Contact us at CARE today to let us help you find a policy that will cover your needs.

Footnotes:

  1. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/medical-malpractice-insurance-4172781
  2. https://www.iii.org/article/understanding-medical-malpractice-insurance