A phrase we hear every day from locum doctors and doctors looking for jobs is: why do I need medical indemnity insurance? I thought the hospital provides cover…it’s in my contract…
It may well be the case, but there are a number of good reasons why you need to have your own medical indemnity insurance cover. This is best illustrated with a scenario:
Dr X is working as a locum in Bigtown Hospital Emergency department, and sees a patient for a simple, minor presentation. Dr X treats the patient according to protocols, and common sense – but the patient returns to the ED the next day with serious complications, which appear to be as a result of the treatment provided by Dr X. The patient says they are going to sue the hospital, make a complaint to the HCCC, and go to the media about the shoddy treatment they received.
The hospital conducts its own investigation and finds that Dr X did not follow the latest protocol, and that Dr X is at fault. They suspend Dr X pending the HCCC investigation, and write a letter to the Medical Board, informing them of the situation.
Dr X is obviously going to be in a difficult situation here – his reputation is already damaged, the hospital is distancing themselves from him, and he may have to face the legal costs of fronting the HCCC, the Medical Board, and of course – the court case. Although the hospital may indeed be found negligent – Dr X may be stung with contributory negligence if it is found that he did not follow the protocols and policies of the hospital.
Medical indemnity insurance can provide a serious safety net in terms of:
-legal advice and representation
-underwriting in cases of negligence
When choosing a policy, it is important to speak with the insurer to understand what the right cover for you is. If you are working as an independent contractor on an ABN, it is very important to let the insurer know so that you can be covered appropriately. Also let them know about any significant changes in your scope of practice, employer, locum work, or anything else that you think might effect your insurance.
If you doubt the value of medical indemnity insurance, the key question you need to ask yourself is “Can I count on my hospital/employer to be my advocate when the worst happens?”. The answer is “probably not” in most cases.
Beat Medical finds doctors jobs all around Australia, and specialises in anaesthetists, Emergency Department, ICU and GP jobs.
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