Doctors Professional Indemnity

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Is medical indemnity insurance meant only for doctors?

India has seen a significant rise in medical negligence cases filed in consumer courts, say reports. However, it has been noted that most cases are unsubstantiated and sometimes not even genuine.

Patients often file complaints based on incorrect perceptions or inadequate knowledge. This is a key reason for an increasing number of doctors buying or considering getting financial and legal insurance.

Medical indemnity insurance is gaining popularity in the Indian healthcare ecosystem as it safeguards doctors against legal costs and compensation claims. However, there is a myth about this insurance. Many believe that only qualified doctors need to buy professional indemnity insurance. This is not true.

Let’s examine this issue in depth.

Who needs to buy medical indemnity insurance?

Let’s first understand what indemnity insurance offers to a medical professional. It covers the legal liabilities of the insured in a case of medical negligence. The policy also covers the compensation amounts.

However, doctors alone do not offer medical services. We have qualified medical assistants, nurses, other medical practitioners, attendants and even medically unqualified staff members who support doctors in treating patients. All of them are vulnerable to lawsuits in cases where patients complain of the doctor’s misdiagnosis causing personal or financial losses. In fact, nurses have faced significant litigation primarily related to the administration of medicine.

Furthermore, medical establishments, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and pathology labs, need medical indemnity insurance. Apart from the basic benefits, this insurance safeguards a doctor’s reputation and provides a sense of security.

Medical professionals can independently buy indemnity insurance. The cover can be part of their employment contract with healthcare establishments.

Common doubts and queries

Most medical practitioners are uncertain about how to handle a lawsuit. They usually have doubts and questions about the issues they will face and what could happen during and after the litigation. They are also unaware of how medical indemnity insurance can help them.

Some of these common questions and their responses are detailed below:

What does medical indemnity insurance include?

A professional indemnity policy for medical practitioners covers the compensation amount paid for the financial loss caused to the victims, unintentional errors and omissions and the legal costs.

The insurance provides extended coverage for qualified or unqualified employees and a medical partner in the same practice.

What are some of the key exclusions?

Healthcare professionals enjoy several benefits through professional liability insurance. But there are certain standard exclusions. For instance, the policy does not cover medical professionals’ criminal and fraudulent acts.

The insurance also doesn’t cover medical procedures or surgeries performed under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Weight loss procedures, cosmetic surgeries, treatments for HIV/AIDS are some of the other exclusions.

What is the process of calculating the premium for medical indemnity insurance?

The premium is not the same for all medical practitioners. This is because the risk of negligence or error depends on specialization. The premium differs as per the risk group, area of specialization, number of patients a physician caters to in a day, indemnity limit and claim settlement history.

Can dentists buy a professional indemnity insurance policy?

The doctor’s professional indemnity insurance covers dentists working in a hospital. They are required to follow medical procedures with or without the use of anaesthesia.

Some insurers do not cover dentists who practise in private clinics. It is better to check this with the insurer before buying the policy.

In case of a lawsuit, the compensation amount is one of the biggest concerns for a medical practitioner. However, there are others who should share this worry. An active, medical liability insurance is recommended for all healthcare professionals, nurses, clinical staff and even hospital owners.