In India, according to reports, there has been a significant rise in medical negligence cases filed in consumer courts. Several published reports have however mentioned that most of these cases are either not substantial or sometimes not even genuine.
There are several reasons for this situation, including the fact that patients often file cases on the basis of wrong perception or incomplete knowledge. This is a key reason that more and more doctors in different states are buying or beginning to look for financial and legal insurance to cover their risks of being embroiled in a legal case filed by a patient.
Professional or medical indemnity insurance for doctors, which safeguards doctors against legal costs and compensation claims is gaining popularity in the Indian healthcare ecosystem. However, there is one myth prevailing about this type of insurance. Some medical practitioners believe that only qualified doctors need to buy professional indemnity insurance, which is not true. Let’s examine this issue in more depth here.
Who Should Buy Medical Indemnity Insurance?
Let’s first understand what indemnity insurance offers in a medical situation. It covers the legal liability of the insured as a result of errors committed or omissions that might happen while offering professional medical services. If there’s a legal case filed, the policy covers the claims of patients who are demanding compensation. However, doctors are not the only entities that offer medical services. There are qualified medical assistants, nurses, other types of medical practitioners and even attendants and medically unqualified staff members that support doctors to provide medical services to patients. This makes all these entities vulnerable to lawsuits in case the medical services of the doctor were perceived to result in personal or financial losses by the patient.
Furthermore, medical establishments including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and even pathology labs need medical indemnity insurance. Along with its basic benefits, this insurance safeguards their reputation and provides a sense of security to the doctors. Medical professionals can either buy indemnity insurance on their own, or they could be covered as a part of their employment contracts while working in a medical establishment and rendering healthcare services.
Common Doubts and Questions Related to Medical Indemnity Insurance
Most medical practitioners are uncertain about what might happen in case litigation is filed against them. They usually have doubts and questions about what issues they will face and what might happen during and after the litigation, how medical indemnity insurance can help them, and similar others. Some of these common questions and their responses are detailed below :
- What is generally included in medical indemnity insurance?
In general, a professional indemnity policy for medical practitioners includes the following:
- Compensation for financial damage or loss caused to the victims
- Unintentional errors and omissions
- Defense costs incurred while dealing with lawsuits
- Extended coverage for qualified or unqualified employees, and a medical partner in the same practice
- What are some of the key exclusions of Indemnity Insurance?
Healthcare professionals enjoy several benefits through professional liability insurance. However, there are certain standard exclusions, which are items not generally covered in the policy. These are as follows:
- Criminal and fraudulent acts by medical professionals or their staff
- Medical procedures, specifically surgeries, performed after the consumption of alcohol or drugs
- Weight loss procedures
- Medical treatments that involve cosmetic improvements
- HIV/AIDS, and others
- What is the process of calculating the premium for medical indemnity insurance?
Not all medical practitioners need to pay the same premium amount while buying professional liability insurance. This is because the risk of negligence or errors differs by different streams of specialization. The premium depends on several relevant factors, which include:
- Risk group
- Area of specialization
- Number of patients that a physician caters to in a day
- Indemnity limit
- Claim settlement history etc.
- Can Dentists Buy a Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy?
In general, dentists are covered under the doctor’s professional indemnity insurance provided they are working in a hospital and follow medical procedures with or without the use of anesthesia. On the other hand, those with dental practices in private clinics are not covered in the policies offered by some insurers. One needs to check this with the selected insurers before buying a policy.
In case of a lawsuit, one of the biggest concerns of a medical practitioner is usually about the amount of compensation a victim would ask for. As detailed above, this concern is not limited to only the doctors. All healthcare professionals, nurses, clinical staff and even hospital owners are advised to always have active medical liability insurance in place.