How to Choose Liability Insurance That Benefit You

Purchasing coverage for your practice is a necessary and important task. When considering liability coverage, it’s important to consider all aspects of the decision. How will your insurance company advocate for you and your practice? What should you consider when looking into liability coverage? Should you choose lower rates or higher coverage? While this can seem daunting, it’s important to answer these questions in the best possible way to benefit you and your practice.

There are a multitude of considerations when it comes to choosing and purchasing liability coverage. Finding a reputable, fully licensed and stable liability insurance company is vital. Look for a company that specializes in coverage for your field. For example, CARE provides physician focused, agent oriented coverage that is affordable for healthcare professionals, including but not limited to physicians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, physician assistants, registered nurses, etc. 

A common mistake when healthcare professionals choose coverage is choosing the cheapest plan without understanding the cost benefits ratio. Don’t assume the least expensive priced insurance is what you should purchase. Inexpensive coverage may mean limited protection. Just like with other insurance policies, less expensive plans may reduce coverage such as putting limits to coverage of legal costs your company builds.

There are also multiple types of coverage to consider. Occurrence based coverage vs claims based coverage can result in vastly different costs and coverage issues. Try to choose a policy that applies to your practice best. Choose a company that will assist you not only during the process of choosing the best policy for you, but who will also assist in any case coverage is needed. CARE is physician focused, agent oriented, and equipped with prudent underwriters and assertive counselors who will assist you during the claims defense process.  

Another question to consider is the level of coverage provided by your employer. If you are insured by employer, agency, or an institutional policy find out to what extent this coverage protects you as an individual. You may want to consider getting coverage for yourself in addition to your employer’s coverage. Individual policies generally provide broader definitions of coverage, have fewer exclusions, include full separate limits for defending board complaints, and mitigate any divergence between the needs of the employer and those of the employee when a claim or complaint is filed.

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Once you’ve decided to purchase liability coverage, you should understand the benefits to you and your practice that comes with affordable, satisfactory coverage. Contact us at CARE today to find a policy that will cover your practice, and let us put your worries to rest.

Footnotes:

  1. https://acadia-pro.com/3-things-consider-purchasing-professional-liability-insurance/
  2. https://care-ins.com/about/overview/
  3. https://www.trustinsurance.com/resources/articles/5-things-to-consider-before-you-purchase-professional-liability-insurance#:~:text=Find%20a%20reputable%20insurance%20company,has%20competent%20and%20convenient%20customer

What You Need to Know about Liability Insurance

It’s no secret that 2020 has brought new challenges for all fields, but possibly the most impact has been felt by medical and healthcare professionals. Now more than ever, it is important to protect your practice from insurance claims and the liability attached to them. Common claims that professional liability insurance covers are negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice. Professional liability insurance protects your practice against these claims.

Who needs coverage?

Any healthcare professional who is at risk of a medical malpractice suit needs professional liability insurance. Malpractice suits can have devastating effects on your practice. Medical malpractice happens when a patient’s health has negative outcomes as a result of a medical act (e.g., surgical development, a wrong pharmacological prescription). The types of healthcare providers who may need liability insurance include, but are not limited to:

  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physical Therapists
  • Licensed Practical Nurses
  • Yoga Instructors
  • Personal Trainers
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)
  • Registered Nurses
  • Optometrists

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of medical malpractice suits. Keeping organized and detailed records, passing along a case you feel unqualified or unprepared for, and always maintaining professional behavior and boundaries are pillars of quality healthcare with minimal liability risk. However, the risk of malpractice is never zero. CARE can help provide coverage when an accident happens.

How can CARE help you?

CARE Professional Liability Association, LLC was founded as an alternative for physicians burdened by rising medical malpractice coverage premiums and the inability to find affordable, satisfactory coverage. CARE helps physicians protect themselves and their practices from loss. CARE is physician focused, agent oriented, and equipped with prudent underwriters and assertive counselors who will assist you during the claims defense process. Contact us at CARE today.

Footnotes:

  1. https://acadia-pro.com/know-professional-liability-insurance/
  2. https://calattendingphysicians.com/blog/2019/8/12/5-physicians-frequently-asked-questions-about-medical-malpractice
  3. https://care-ins.com/about/overview/

Cyber Insurance – What You Need to Know

In our current world, protection against cybercrime -ransom, hacking, computer system breakdown- is needed now more than ever. The first step in protecting your practice against cybercrime is to have strong passwords and firewalls in place. Awareness of scams is also vital. Abiding by HIPAA guidelines can avoid devastating financial and medical information risk. 

 

Penalties for noncompliance of HIPAA guidelines can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or exposed record) and have a maximum fine of $1.5 million per year for violations of an identical provision. Financial penalties are not the only punishment, as criminal charges for HIPAA violations can result in jail time.

As a provider, it is important to ensure all steps have been taken to protect not only against massive fines that could put an end to business, but also against cyber attacks themselves. There are many steps you can take to protect your practice against cybercrime. Companies can combat this heightened cyber risk by ensuring they have a good IT team in place, their technological infrastructure is set up correctly, and security measures are in place to educate employees and respond if an incident does occur.

Cyber security is constantly evolving. Technology changes rapidly, and as a reflection so do the specific cyber protection needs of a business. It’s important to ensure that your practice has proper coverage. An annual review of cyber insurance coverage, rather than the default renewal that most companies do, can be helpful in allowing you to find and correct risks to your practice’s cyber security before it’s too late.

 By staying educated and informed, you can minimize your risk of cybercrime impacting your business. Contact us at CARE today. We can help you minimize your risk to cyber attack related malpractice suits.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.truevault.com/resources/compliance/how-much-do-hipaa-violations-cost#:~:text=The%20penalties%20for%20noncompliance%20are,can%20result%20in%20jail%20time.
  2. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/08/12/578788.htm
  3. https://securityboulevard.com/2020/08/is-cyber-insurance-worth-it-2/

The Rise and Risk of Telehealth in the Developing Pandemic

Telehealth has been used pre-COVID for many reasons. Healthcare providers have used virtual methods to provide support to astronauts in space, patients in rural areas, and even to collaborate with one another on difficult cases or surgeries. Now, technological advances have allowed healthcare professionals to continue providing services amidst an unprecedented time. Some researchers are predicting a sevenfold growth in telehealth usage by 2025.

COVID-19 has impacted the healthcare system in many ways, including this shift to telehealth. Whether practicing cardiology, dermatology or family medicine, telehealth has been and will be a vital tool to continuing to provide healthcare in the future. The use of virtual healthcare comes with a number of benefits including increased accessibility to healthcare for many and decreased risk to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, it does not come without liability risk. 

Some of these risks include: 

  1. Increased risk of misdiagnosis- Without physically seeing patients in an exam room, the risk for misdiagnosing patients increases.
  1. Limited access for some patients-  Low income households and Seniors are less likely to be able to access telemedicine. Half of U.S. seniors do not have internet access.
  1. Administrative risks- Providing healthcare in a virtual environment may lead to oversights but staff members still need to follow proper procedures such as confirming identity, inquiring about allergies and receiving the patient’s specific consent to receive treatment via telemedicine.

There are ways to incorporate telehealth and minimize risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to extreme changes in most fields, including healthcare. 

The key to healthcare in these uncertain times may be the use of telehealth but how do you minimize your risk? There are many steps that can be taken to minimize risk of misdiagnosis. 

  • Properly trained staff 
  • Educated patients
  • Document visits properly
  • Reduce risk of cybersecurity threats
  • Know your state’s laws surrounding online-only patients
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By staying educated and informed, you can minimize your risk of malpractice suits in the new age of telehealth. Contact us at CARE today. We can help you minimize your risk to telehealth related malpractice suits.

Footnotes

  1. https://images.discover.frost.com/Web/FrostSullivan/%7B348611ab-5dae-418e-8977-b6135cd0349e%7D_K488_Samples.pdf
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/
  3. https://www.thedoctors.com/articles/your-patient-is-logging-on-now–the-risks-and-benefits-of-telehealth-in-the-future-of-healthcare/?utm_source=pr&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pr_external&utm_content=telehealth_whitepaper

Professional Liability Coverage: Understand Your Options

Choosing insurance for your practice is a big decision in many ways. That decision isn’t cheap, and can have huge financial implications for many years to come. The cost associated with risk mitigation can be substantial. Insurers spend a considerable amount of money investigating and defending claims before a suit ever makes it to court. Such an important decision is stressful, demanding, and time consuming.

Buying a policy is not a static, singular event, but rather a set of decisions that evolves with your practice. It’s a good idea to evaluate your coverage annually, including a quick check of the competition. Take a look at your practice’s history over the past year, taking note of whether any significant changes you’ve made might affect your malpractice coverage needs.

It’s important to know your state’s malpractice insurance minimum requirements (if applicable) before purchasing a policy. Also consider your own asset protection needs, which may vary greatly based on your risk-aversion mentality. It might be in your best interest to work with a professional consultant to determine the appropriate type and amount of coverage for your particular situation.

As a professional in the health care industry, you know that the territory comes with its own set of challenges. A simple professional liability policy will not provide adequate coverage for you and your staff. Specific policies encompass a number of nuances, including generic vs. specific language, types of claims covered, and policy effective vs. claims dates. Additional coverages that are available can range from legal, data security, and regulatory liability coverage too.

Lastly, when reviewing a policy, pay attention to the following elements:

  1. Specific coverage details
  2. Conditions, exclusions
  3. Financial limitations
  4. Policy definitions
  5. Subcontractor liability
  6. Litigation-related costs
  7. Reporting period (claims made vs. claims occurrence)

Contact us today. We would be happy to educate you about your coverage options to ensure your coverage provides peace of mind for you and your practice.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.benzinga.com/money/best-professional-liability-insurance/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793838/
  3. https://content.naic.org/cipr_topics/topic_medical_malpractice_insurance.htm
  4. https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/how-to-buy-medical-malpractice-insurance/

Details about the latest relief package

The latest iteration of the COVID-19 relief package from Congress has taken many turns, and it hasn’t even been finalized yet. Some points of contention include:

  • Hospital bailout money
  • Medicaid protection funds
  • Liability protections for health care professionals

Hospital funding is tricky, as well as a moving target. While elective procedures all but stopped in the spring, some hospitals have reported larger than expected earnings during the first half of the year. The current proposed bailout amount is floating somewhere around $25 billion, and while that may seem like a huge infusion to keep hospitals afloat, the industry’s original request was $100 billion.

Medicaid is also tricky, in that it’s supposed to be largely funded by individual states. But when certain states are on the verge of bankruptcy (and it’s a matter of opinion as to whether those reasons are entirely COVID-related), who but the federal government can provide a large enough bailout? The current bill is requesting roughly 12 – 14% in matching federal dollars. One main caveat in this federal bailout is that states cannot cut enrollment numbers while they are taking in the money from the federal government.

On the liability side for hospitals and health care professionals, the bill seeks to provide protections against COVID-related lawsuits. Further, the bill also proposes capping allowable damages if in fact those protections aren’t enough. But neither immunity nor a cap can literally prevent someone from filing suit. And fighting a suit, even if it is eventually dismissed, is costly. Not only in dollars, but in time, morale, and reputation. No one wants this burden when trying to triage patients, but it’s a sad reality for most in the health care industry.

Not all of the potential liability is related to COVID-19, though. Elective procedures that were canceled might have long-term effects on patients, even if they never had the virus. Other potential risk areas include employee protections (ranging from lack of PPE to burnout to overtime pay), misdiagnoses, ratio of personnel to patients, and equipment shortages, to name a few.

As with any legislation, this is largely a waiting game. If you haven’t already, educate yourself about the relief bill. And call your representative so that your voice is heard. Then call your medical liability carrier to see how all of this affects you.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to ensure your coverage aligns with current mandates and guidelines.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/27/senate-coronavirus-package-hospitals-medicaid-383375
  2. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/minimizing-medical-malpractice-90844/
  3. https://thehill.com/policy/finance/509438-stocks-close-down-as-congress-clashes-over-covid-19-relief-bill
  4. https://care-ins.com/

Trends in Coronavirus Legal Issues

COVID-19 has left more in its wake than deserted office buildings and empty restaurants. Litigation claims touch on many aspects of daily living, including business interruption, workplace/employee impact, treatments and cures, legal rights issues, and price gouging, just to name a few. Specifically, health care professionals are closely attuned to the potential legal liability of missed diagnoses, failed treatment plans, and workplace safety. Although the federal government is working to shield healthcare workers from COVID-related liabilities, many civil and class action lawsuits are already in motion.

One major factor that providers can control is their existing liability coverage. It is not uncommon for policies to exclude losses due to unusual circumstances. Couple those exclusions with the fact that much of policymaking is open to interpretation, and you have as many answers to questions as you have experts answering them. What is usually considered ‘business interruption’ when it comes to tangibles, such as a fire or a flood, is easier to define. A physical disaster like that may well level a building, and certainly close a business for months. The owner is now without supplies, equipment, and income. They then file a business interruption claim.

These situations are not as easily defined when it comes to a global pandemic. A healthcare practice is certainly considered essential during such emergencies, so how is loss determined when you are still open for business? One example might be the acute slowdown for non-emergent patient care. This immediately affected healthcare providers from many areas, including dentists, ophthalmologists, and even preventive care providers. Potential patients stayed home for months, avoiding all healthcare facilities, not daring to risk exposure to COVID-19. Does your policy cover this type of situation? It is best to confirm with your agent or carrier now, before you need to file a claim. Discuss your current coverage, along with options to shore up any potential gaps in coverage, so that you can continue operations with that necessary peace of mind.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to ensure your coverage aligns with current mandates and guidelines.

Footnotes

  1. https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/coronavirus/a-complete-guide-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak-legal-issues/
  2. https://www.dwt.com/blogs/employment-labor-and-benefits/2020/03/healthcare-employer-coronavirus-legal-issues
  3. https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/04/09/564371.htm

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Who is Liable and Why

In a perfect world, both providers and patients would have total faith in artificial intelligence (AI) and its ability to diagnose and detect disease. (And while we’re at it, COVID-19 wouldn’t exist in a perfect world. But I digress …) However, even AI has to live within the limits of its imperfections. Mistakes are bound to happen, as are missed diagnoses and untreated diseases. It’s not a matter of IF, but rather WHEN it will happen. And when it does, the bigger question for providers is where liability lies: is it with the provider utilizing the AI system, or the company who built it? (1)

The line between user (provider) and developer is definitely blurry. One main dividing line is the law. A manufacturer may be exempt from state-level rulings if legislation exists at the federal level. This is called preemption(2). Potential liability does not only exist on the clinical side of healthcare. Operational and administrative functions, while they stand to make great gains in embracing AI, are also at risk for liability claims. Yet another factor is the patient side. When it comes to patients understanding and following provider instructions, the risk of liability has always existed. Will the introduction of AI protocols increase or decrease this risk? 

AI implementation has two main goals: reduce spending and improve patient outcomes. Overall, the goal is to piece together the puzzle known as the ‘iron triangle’ in the healthcare industry(3): balancing access, affordability, and effectiveness without adversely affecting each of the other factors. However, if users are constantly rechecking an AI’s prognosis, then what greater purpose does the AI serve? It’s not saving time or money at that point.   

If you haven’t already, now is the time to explore the AI applications that have potential within your practice. Research which options are best suited to your organization based on reliability, cost, ROI, personnel adoption, and patient readiness. Viewing all of these angles from the lens of risk mitigation will help you decide which AI applications to implement.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to ensure your coverage extends to the AI applications in your practice.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/09/can-you-sue-artificial-intelligence-algorithm-for-malpractice/
  2. https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1575
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-intelai/2019/02/11/ai-and-healthcare-a-giant-opportunity/#7da71e6b4c68

Vendor Management: A Vital Component to Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation involves many moving parts, including your employees. However, your employees are not the only human element affecting your potential for liability. Your vendors also need special consideration. Luckily, one of CARE’s industry partners, OmniSure,(1) has compiled a list of recommendations(2) for managing the risk exposure derived from working with third-party vendors.

Tips include:

  • Confirm that a current, signed contract or agreement is on file  
  • Maintain documented proof of current liability insurance
  • Create a process to ensure vendors are compliant with regulatory requirements, licensure, and liability coverage  
  • Verify that all independent contractors have a Federal Tax Identification Number
  • Keep copies of current professional liability and worker’s compensation insurance
  • Ensure each provider’s current license is on file  
  • If applicable: maintain current CLIA waiver to do lab work  
  • Keep contracts and agreements with supporting documentation in a centralized, secure location

OmniSure also has videos and podcasts about vendor relations if you would like more information from them.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) have information, tips, and a searchable database(3) you can use so you can be confident in the liability you’re assuming when you hire vendors. Since the OIG has the authority to exclude individuals and entities from federally funded health care programs, you’ll want to check their LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals & Entities) database for vendors or contractors you plan to utilize at your facility.

If you don’t already have one, create a formalized process for performing due diligence on potential vendors and subcontractors. A documented process serves as the first layer of risk mitigation by ensuring that all new agreements go through the same vetting process. The next step is to train all personnel on this process so that nothing goes unnoticed or undone in the future.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to see if your current coverage provides protections for vendor liability.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.riskfitness.com/
  2. https://www.riskfitness.com/vendor-management-recommendations?cid=85fab4ed-3196-4e75-8828-a8ba9e4067ad
  3. https://oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/index.asp