The Legal Nurse
The legal nurse provides information for legal nurse consultants as well as registered nurses in areas of nursing malpractice, as well as other legal issues.
By: Janet Kress
Being a nurse is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have. A nurse can save a person’s life, help someone recover from a surgery or even help a sick child. There are many nursing jobs available, the pay is amazing and the benefits are very good. However, a nurse can be held liable for anything that happens while they are on their shift. This is why nurses need malpractice insurance. If the time occurs when a nurse is being named in a lawsuit, even if it is unfounded, they will have to deal with a plethora of legal fees, worry about a ruined reputation or fear losing their job. This can all be dealt with if the person has nursing malpractice insurance.
The cost of having this insurance is negligible when one considers the amount of money a lawsuit can cost. Most people think that their employer will be covering any malpractice claims while they are on the job. However, most nurses do not realize that their employer’s insurance has the minimal amount of coverage for them. Sometimes their employer’s insurance might not even cover them in a malpractice lawsuit. This is because their insurance plans are tailored to their specific needs. It doesn’t make sense for them to cover their employees if they will not be held liable. Typically if a nurse is covered by their insurance, it will be for a miniscule amount. It is always important to know how much an employer’s insurance will cover and even if it seems good, there will be some drawbacks.
Even if an employer’s coverage is satisfactory, there is another big issue that could occur. They can decide to sue a nurse for all of the money they were held liable for if the nurse was indeed negligent. This greatly varies from place to place and some might provide adequate insurance for their staff. However, if the place of work is having financial issues and goes bankrupt, they might not have the means to pay for the nurse’s insurance anymore. This is why it is so important for a nurse to have their own personal malpractice insurance.
Circumstances can change greatly if a person has a hearing with the Board of Nursing. This will often happen when a nurse’s license is at risk of being revoked. This can be devastating because their livelihood could be at stake. Policies often have License Protection which will cover all of the costs associated with defending a nurse’s license to the board.
In the past, many nurses did not get insurance because it would actually extend lawsuits against them. Before nurses were paid the wages they are now, lawyers would typically drop their names from lawsuits. They knew that they did not have the funds to pay any settlements. Unfortunately, this has been spread around the nursing industry and people believe it is better to not have insurance for themselves. Lawyers have recently changed their mindset and will try to get any money a nurse may have. If found guilty, a person can lose any money in their savings accounts, be forced to sell their homes or even claim bankruptcy.
When getting insurance, a person needs to understand their policy completely. Knowing exactly what is covered will ensure that any negligence claims are handled hassle free. The most common coverage will include:
Liability: This will cover any charges, up to a certain amount, accrued by a lawsuit stemming from any medical incidents that might occur.
License Protection: When a lawsuit is brought against an individual, they might have to face the board of nursing. This will cover any costs, up to the limit in the policy, defending a nurse to the board.
Personal Injury Protection: This will cover any costs from claims of slander, libel, assault or even battery.
Although these are the basic coverage options available, there may be additional options that each insurance agency provides. Nurses, no matter how good they are, can all benefit from covering themselves with malpractice insurance. It is important to choose a policy that allows the holder to choose their own lawyers and does not cap the hourly rate that they are allowed to be paid. This will ensure that a nurse can find and afford the best possible attorney. Even if a lawsuit is dropped, a nurse without insurance would have to pay their lawyer’s fees.
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