Do Student Nurses Need Malpractice Insurance?
As a medical student or intern, you are required to complete supervised, mentored hours in a hospital or clinic to gain your license. While the specific requirements and hours can vary based on your specialization, these student programs are invaluable tools that give you the opportunity to apply what you have learned in the classroom while gaining real world experience with actual patients and team members.
However, being a student intern or volunteer comes with its own risks. Mistakes are part of the learning process, but those mistakes could be costly. That’s where liability and nurse malpractice insurance may help to protect you financially. Read on to learn more about malpractice insurance for students.
What is Malpractice Insurance?
Medical negligence is reportedly one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This includes misdiagnoses, treatment, and advice given for treatment. Most healthcare provider policies cover the supervision of interns, meaning that your supervisor is protected from any allegations of wrongful practice involving services that you provide. However, these protections generally do not extend to interns, students, or volunteers, which is why most students and interns are encouraged to purchase their own malpractice insurance.
Medical malpractice insurance is a type of liability insurance designed to protect doctors, physicians, and other medical practitioners from liability involving potential wrongful practice. Nursing and physician assistant malpractice coverage specifically helps with liability for:
- Bodily injuries or death
Personal injuries, including mental anguish
Liability and wrongful practice are often complex due to the nature of discovering negligence, often resulting in more money going toward defense and cost containment. Malpractice insurance can help to cover the costs of defending these lawsuits.
Types of Malpractice Insurance
You have two main types of malpractice insurance for nurse practitioners to choose from: claims-made and occurrence. Claims-made insurance provides coverage only if your policy is in effect when the lawsuit is filed and the retroactive date in which the incident took place. Occurrence malpractice insurance coverage includes any claim for incidents that occur during your period of coverage, meaning you are still protected even if the patient files the claim after your policy lapses.
Claims-made policies require you to maintain coverage for longer periods of time as claims can be made several months after the incident. Some claims-made policies provide a period of coverage referred to as a tail. Tails provide liability coverage for an agreed amount of time after your policy ends. If the tail coverage is not provided in the original policy, nursing professionals can usually purchase it later on, which may cost as much as two times the annual premium. While that might seem expensive, tail coverage policies are essential for protecting nurse practitioners, particularly when they are changing carriers, transferring positions, or retiring.
Occurrence policies usually do not require tail coverage. However, they are generally more expensive than claims-made policies and are less commonly offered by employers.
The Finer Details
Even understanding the two types of malpractice insurance, it’s important to look at the details of every individual policy offering. You can generally expect malpractice policies to cover expenses associated with the defense and settling of liability suits, including:
- Court and legal fees
- Attorney costs
- Medical damages
- Settlement and arbitration
- Compensatory and punitive damages
Medical malpractice policies do not cover liability claims involving criminal acts or sexual misconduct.
Spend some time to get acquainted with your nursing insurance policy. Understand exactly what the insurance policy covers, as well as the amount of liability coverage it provides. Some states require a minimum amount per each claim and for the total amount of claims.
How to Get Malpractice Insurance for Student Nurses
Malpractice insurance coverage can be purchased through traditional insurance carriers, though you may also consider medical risk retention groups, which usually comprise a group of medical professionals who provide liability policies.
Some larger medical institutions have a shared medical liability trust that helps to pay for malpractice claims. Smaller practices usually offer individual and group policies. Your needs as a medical student can vary, so it’s important to talk to your supervisor or even a medical insurance consultant to work through your options and determine what works best for your specific needs.
When you are getting your hours at a clinic or hospital while completing your nursing program, you should be focusing on gaining experience and applying your knowledge. A lawsuit should be the last thing you have to worry about. It’s highly recommended that you find student malpractice insurance that fits your specific needs.