Win or lose, medical malpractice claims can impose a massive burden on hospitals and solo medical practitioners, with potential exposure for defense costs and judgments often rising into the millions of dollars. In some cases, whether a medical provider has strong malpractice insurance may make the difference between ongoing viability and financial ruin.
Here, Law360 explores steps providers should take to secure the most effective medical malpractice coverage possible.
Generally speaking, medical malpractice insurance covers claims tied to medical providers' rendering of, or failure to render, "professional services." Providers should therefore work with their malpractice insurers to negotiate an expansive definition of that term, attorneys say.
"Policyholders would be wise to push for a broad definition of professional services," said Anderson Kill PC shareholder Joshua Gold.
The definition of professional services in a malpractice policy will typically include obvious medical activities, such as surgery, checkups or treatments. However, Gold said, there are other types of activities that are "less thought-of," particularly those involving advanced technologies that may not have even existed when standard medical malpractice policy forms were first written.
"For example, if a doctor performs surgery and implants an electronic medical device that can be hacked because security is insufficient, would that type of incident fall within the professional acts definition?" Gold asked. "Practitioners should ensure that methods of modern medicine are included in a policy along with traditional techniques."