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Doctor's insurance: how you can stay protected against the biggest risks

Photo: Doctor's Insurance: How You Can Stay Protected against the Biggest Risks
If you’re thinking of becoming a doctor or you’re new to the medical industry, it’s critical you understand the risks involved and what’s necessary to stay protected.

Although the profession is a rewarding one, the appeal of helping people doesn’t insulate from the hazards to the job. Occupational health dangers, long hours, malpractice and high-stress work are just some of the risks faced. The right doctor’s insurance is paramount to ensuring you’re fully protected. But being aware of how these threats may affect you is key to building healthier communities and ensuring you and your patients are safe.

Ready to be a doctor and make a difference? Here is a list of the top risks to be wary of and what you can do to protect yourself.
Increased Risks of Malpractice Lawsuits

One of the biggest financial threats in the medical industry is the increased risk of malpractice lawsuits.

Doctors, regardless of their speciality, can be sued by a patient or their family if a mistake is made. Even if you haven’t made the mistake, the risk of malpractice lawsuits is still there and you may still be liable. 

According to a study by World Health Organisation, 50,000 Australians suffer permanent injuries each year as a result of medical negligence. To combat the risk, medical indemnity insurance can provide coverage to protect medical professionals, including doctors. This can provide necessary support through an indemnity dispute made by an organisation including your employer, hospital, health care service, a patient or their family member.

Doctors are also urged to be aware of what practices are considered negligent to best avoid the threats. Some negligent practices may include:
• Misdiagnosis of an injury, disease or other health condition
• Delays or failure to provide proper treatment
• Operative errors
• Causing an existing injury, disease or health condition to worsen
• Failure to recognise serious conditions and sending the patient home

Mistakes in any career are inevitable. But for medical professionals, they can be physically and mentally damaging, or even deadly.

Doctors and other health care professionals aren’t typically considered negligent if their actions are widely accepted in the medical industry at the time of treatment. Because of this, malpractice lawsuits are complex and it can be difficult to determine or prove medical negligence.

Importance of Effective Communication

Effective communication is a core requirement in medical practice.

It doesn’t matter which area you choose to specialise in, communication errors can be detrimental to the health and outcome of patients and / or lead to claims being made against you or your practice.

Effective communication should also take into consideration the needs and desires of the patient, balanced with adherence to laws and ethical codes.

Should poor or lack of communication lead to claims or lawsuits, medical indemnity insurance can also provide protection in this area.

Stress and Depression

Working in the medical industry as a doctor or surgeon is a stressful business. Whilst it comes with incredible highs from saving lives, it’s also emotional and can be draining. Paired with long hours, overwhelming responsibility, challenging procedures and a stressful working environment, it can often lead to anxiety, depression and on the severe side, suicide if not treated accordingly

The effects of long work hours, such as sleep deprivation and fatigue, can also increase the likelihood of doctors making mistakes. Legally, doctors can work up to 80 hours per week, and many do.

Workers’ compensation can provide support to doctors if time off work is required for recovery. However, there must be sufficient medical evidence to support a workers’ compensation claim for psychological suffering, such as stress or depression. Medical professionals, including doctors, surgeons or emergency service workers, can receive payments for mental health illnesses or injuries.

Workers’ compensation can also protect against physical injuries that may occur due to the nature of the job.

Communicable Illness and Disease

Doctors are at a far greater risk of catching an illness or disease than almost any other occupation. This may also include blood-borne diseases which can be transmitted from an accidental prick of a needle or the nick of a scalpel, which could expose a surgeon or doctor to whatever disease the patient has.

Insurance coverage such as workers’ compensation, management protection insurance, practice insurance or public liability can help to protect clinics, hospitals, workers and other patients against these risks. However, health care workers must take all reasonable steps to prevent against viruses and other vaccine-preventable illnesses or diseases.

Technological Mayhem

In today’s tech-driven world, taking out cyber protection insurance is essential.

Medical professionals are more reliant on technology than ever, with sensitive patient data at stake should a data breach occur.

Typically there are two types of cyber protection insurance – first party, which most health care professionals can benefit from; and third party, which is specifically designed for businesses to safely store and maintain their healthcare data.

Whilst the healthcare industry is one of the highest-risk professions, there are ways you can protect yourself, your patients and your business through the right doctor’s insurance coverage for your needs.

Author Bio
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends Professional Essentials – leading providers of doctor’s insurance with over 10 years’ experience in medical insurance protection and advice. Catch Jayde on LinkedIn.

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