Medical Indemnity Insurance: What is It?

by on May 2, 2019

Medical indemnity insurance is a type of insurance that many medical professionals are obliged to have. If you are considering entering the medical field, or moving around within it, you are going to have to familiarise yourself with the various types of insurance that exist and which types are required by which professionals. This quick guide to medical indemnity should answer the main questions that you might have about medical indemnity insurance.

What is it?

In the simplest terms, medical indemnity insurance is insurance that doctors take out to protect themselves financially in the case of a malpractice suit being brought forward by a patient. If a patient thinks that a doctor has acted negligently in providing them care, they might sue for malpractice, which literally means “bad practice”.

Note that not all mistakes will rise to the level of malpractice. Doctors are human and are expected to make mistakes now and then. There are various safeguards in place that minimise the rate at which mistakes occur, and to identify them promptly when they do occur.

Who Needs It?

You can replace the word ‘doctor’ in the paragraph above with most kind of healthcare roles that involve direct contact with a patient, for example. nurses, chiropractors and physical therapists. All of these people can, if they are careless in their duties, cause harm to their patients.

In some cases, having indemnity insurance is a regulatory requirement and it is illegal to practice without having some form of professional indemnity in place. The purpose of this insurance is similar in nature to the insurance you are required to have on your car – in both cases, accidents happen and there is a financial cost associated. With car insurance, the insurance exists to cover the costs of repairs, in the case of medical indemnity the insurance pays for any compensation settlements.

Even among those who aren’t required to have medical indemnity insurance, such as dental nurses, it is strongly recommended that practitioners take out medical indemnity insurance.

What Does Medical Indemnity Insurance Cover?

Medical indemnity insurance can provide cover for various different acts or omissions on the part of a medical practitioner. Some medical indemnity insurance plans are broader than others, as with all types of insurance. You can also get more targeted offerings, such as the plans offered by Incision medical indemnity, which are specialised for surgeons. Their website provides a number of useful details; if you work as a surgeon, be sure to check them out.

More general cover can account for any number of occurrences. For example, a patient might be injured by their doctor in a number of ways – a doctor or surgeon might perform treatment on the wrong area, or they might do something they think is medically necessary but which turns out not to be. In these circumstances, a patient might be able to claim compensation for their injuries.

Another relatively common occurrence is misdiagnosing. A misdiagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean that a doctor has been negligent. Sometimes, the same illness can present and progress in very different ways. In other cases, a set of symptoms might fit a number of diseases equally well, and in the absence of any additional information, a doctor might reasonably decide to treat for the most likely disease.

However, if a lawyer can make a compelling argument that a doctor working in a particular position should have been able to make an accurate diagnosis on the information they had, or requested diagnostic tests that would have provided the right diagnosis, the patient might be able to win compensation.

Other occurrences that might be covered include delays in referring patients and obtaining appointments, or other general administrative slowdowns and errors. For most medical professionals in the UK who work directly with patients, medical indemnity insurance is highly recommended. Many professionals are already required by statutory regulations to have insurance, and are risking a lot by not having it.

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