Why Is Liability Insurance Important in the Medical Office?

by Wanda Thibodeaux; Updated September 26, 2017
The possibility of a lawsuit is real for every physician, adding to the stress of the job.

Liability insurance protects the insured in the event she is held responsible for losses, damages, or injuries. This type of insurance is especially important in a medical office because errors can result in debilitating and even fatal consequences. In some states, medical workers and legislators consider liability insurance so vital that it is required by law, as indicated by the Michigan Physicians Mutual Liability Company (MPMLC) website.

Financial Responsibility

Doctors and other medical workers may be held legally responsible for mistakes they make. If a medical worker without insurance gets sued and loses his case, the courts may require him to pay thousands or even millions of dollars. Thus, liability insurance protects physicians and other health care workers from the financial devastation that a lawsuit may cause.

Severity of Errors

Liability often is tied to major errors like giving a patient an accidental overdose. However, patients can sue for even minor mistakes like nicking. This makes it much harder for doctors, nurses and other specialists to predict when they may face legal action. Having liability insurance offers some peace of mind because the health care worker knows that she is covered even for unexpected lawsuits.

Where to Get Insurance

Because liability insurance is so important, most major health care workers get it, although some physicians don't purchase insurance if permitted to go "bare bones" by their state. Health care workers can get insurance through major organizations associated with their area of specialty. For example, Nurses Service Organization offers insurance for nurses. However, some companies such as Healthcare Providers Insurance Organization provide liability insurance to a broad array of medical disciplines. These companies may seek endorsement of the insurance from specialty-related organizations.

Individual Responsibility

According to American law, each individual in a medical facility may be held legally responsible for his actions. This means that to be fully protected, a medical office should check that all employees have some type of liability insurance. However, it is not the responsibility of the medical facility to provide the coverage — it's up to the employees to take action to protect themselves, especially since they cannot guarantee that a supervisor's insurance won't have gaps.

Balancing Costs

The cost of liability insurance for health care workers will vary by location, the limits of liability within the policy and the responsibility the worker has, as asserted by the G & G Advanced Medical Consulting website. Every health care worker has to assess whether the risk of a lawsuit is high enough to make paying premiums worthwhile. In some cases, a worker may choose to hold insurance but get low coverage so the insurance is affordable. The rising cost of medical insurance premiums is making it harder for physicians to practice, according to MPMLC, which makes it more difficult for patients to get the care they need.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

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