One thing nursing school can’t teach you is how to avoid a lawsuit. Many surgeons and physicians carry professional liability insurance, and nurses need nursing liability insurance as well. No matter whether you're an RN, CNA, or an LPN, there's quality coverage out there that meets your needs.
The Facts of a Nursing Career
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses will be the fastest growing occupation through 2018.
Nurses are the primary providers of patient care in hospitals.
3 out of 5 nurses work in hospitals. The rest are employed by schools, private companies, social assistance, nursing homes and other organizations.
1 out of 4 nurses works part time.
Do I Need Nursing Malpractice Insurance?
Even if you work in a practice, don’t assume that your employer’s coverage will provide all the protection you need. A medical lawsuit can cost millions of dollars. Whether you’re the only individual named in the case or part of a group, the coverage may not be adequate.
Do you know your company’s liability insurance limit? If you’re ordered to pay on a settlement, you may be looking at high out-of-pocket expenses if your employer’s coverage is limited. Private nursing malpractice insurance can help you if your employer’s coverage won’t pay or if you face an individual lawsuit.
In some cases, there are conflicting interests between the company defending itself and the company defending you. Ultimately, your employer's insurance has the company’s best interest in mind, and if providing coverage for you will hurt them, you may find that you’re without any form of insurance to cover legal defense fees and settlement amounts. Even if the lawsuit is thrown out of court, legal fees are very expensive.
Other Myths of Nursing Malpractice Insurance
The law requires that you purchase auto and sometimes home insurance, so you do. But what about insurance to protect your career? Here are some common myths that can lead to risky decisions about coverage:
"If I’m insured, I’ll be an easy target for a lawsuit." This isn’t true. Unless you inform a patient that you have insurance, it’s considered confidential information. In fact, many patients who file lawsuits don’t find out which practitioners are covered until after the process is underway.
"I follow the rules so I won’t get sued. I don’t need insurance." Whether you’re sued or get reported to the Board of Nursing, it doesn’t always mean you broke a rule. You may be completely innocent, but appealing a BON complaint or paying an attorney is hard to handle out of pocket. Liability insurance can help pay for both.
How Much Nursing Liability Insurance Do I Need?
The kind of insurance you need depends on a few factors, including:
Where you work
What kind of services you provide
How long you’ve been in your current workplace
How much coverage your employer has
It’s important that you don’t purchase so much coverage that it’s unaffordable, but it's a good idea to purchase at least $1 million in coverage per occurrence. This amount ensures the elimination of a gap between employer coverage and personal coverage. You may also want to research your employer’s policy to make sure there are no major coverage gaps you don't know about.
Liability insurance amounts will be applied based on per incident and aggregate amount. While $1 million is a safe place to start, a drawn out lawsuit or lengthy battle with the BON may go above and beyond your coverage limit. At that point, you’re responsible for the remaining balance. If you need to know just how much insurance you should purchase, speak with an independent agent who can help you assess your personal insurance needs.
Nurse Practitioner Insurance
Nurse practitioners have a significant amount of responsibility for patient care. They can diagnose, order treatments and medications, and can refer patients to doctors and specialists for treatment of illness and other chronic medical issues. Nurse practitioners are commonly found in hospitals and other clinical settings, including urgent care facilities and drop-in clinics in pharmacies. Because of this, they face more liability risks than ever before.
"Over $64.8 million was paid for medical malpractice claims on behalf of nurse practitioners in home care environments over a 10 year span."
If you fail to properly assess, monitor, recognize or respond to signs and symptoms of serious medical problems, you could face a malpractice lawsuit. Additionally, if you fail to communicate with your patient's physician or send the patient out for necessary emergency care, you can also face serious legal trouble.
Nurse practitioner liability insurance, also known as nurse practitioner malpractice insurance, can be built to mitigate the risks you face in this line of work. Because you have a significant amount of responsibility, make sure your insurance can protect you if a patient takes you to court.
Registered Nurse Insurance
While there are divides within the field of nursing when it comes to responsibility, there is still an equal chance of malpractice. A registered nurse (RN) has some unique insurance needs based on the risks within that field.
Consider prescription medicine distribution in a hospital setting. The RN is responsible in many cases for giving medications to patients and reviewing the directions from the doctor on each medication. As an RN, you could be named in a malpractice lawsuit after a patient has a bad reaction or overdoses on a medication. If there is no documentation that you performed a safety check, or you didn’t follow the prescription instructions from the pharmacy or doctor, you could be liable for any damages your patient suffered. Registered nurse insurance can help you avoid major costs if you're involved in litigation.
How Much Does Nursing Liability Insurance Cost?
Nurse malpractice insurance is surprisingly affordable. In some states, a $1 million/$6 million policy costs less than $100 per year. Of course, rates will vary based on your location and the coverage amounts you select. Depending on your practice and how many certifications you have, you may want to purchase extra coverage even if it adds to your premium amount. In the end, peace of mind is priceless.
Comparing Registered Nurse Insurance Options
Buying nursing malpractice insurance doesn’t have to be a hard process and rates don’t have to be sky-high. If you’re ready to purchase nursing liability insurance, you need to locate an agent and an insurance company. Your coworkers or management might have some tips for you on the best places to seek. An independent insurance agent can compare quotes and policies from reliable liability insurance companies and tailor your coverage to meet your personal needs.