A report released last month found that malpractice claims for healthcare professionals in Ohio in 2011 cost an average of $33,591 – even when the defendant was not found to have any liability and no damages were assigned.
This finding is a helpful reminder for allied health professionals as they consider their business insurance needs in the coming year. Perhaps the most telling finding of the report was that, while more than three-quarters of the malpractice claims were closed without requiring the defendant to pay the claimant, nearly every claim resulted in major expenses for the parties involved.
- In 2011, a total of 3,094 malpractice claims for healthcare professionals were closed in Ohio.
- Of those claims, 76 percent (2,343) led to no payment assigned to the party charged with malpractice (i.e., the healthcare practitioner).
- The remaining 24 percent (751) led to a payment of some kind.
- Combined, both types of claims accounted for more than $84 million in expenses, for an average cost of $33,591.
Why Do Malpractice Claims Cost So Much?
The question many allied health professionals ask when they see these numbers is this: if I’m not found liable for malpractice, why does a claim cost me $33,000?
The answer is simple: it costs a lot to defend yourself and your business against malpractice claims.
That’s because, in order to present a defense that has a chance of holding water in court, you’ll have to adhere to the letter of the law and know your insurance policy inside and out. Because most allied health professionals are too busy serving their patients to put together a legal defense for themselves, most hire an attorney if and when they face malpractice charges.
In addition to paying the attorney’s fees, allied health professionals facing malpractice charges must also pay court costs, which might include docket fees, expert witness fees, and more. Add to this any time they have to spend consulting with an attorney or appearing in court, and you begin to see how a malpractice claim can cost serious time and money – even if you’re ultimately found to have no liability.
How Can I Avoid the Costs of Malpractice Claims?
The good news here is that, while costly, malpractice cases are still fairly rare for allied health professionals. The bad news is that even the most diligent practitioners face malpractice claims from time to time. Such claims are more often a reflection on the patient than on the allied health professional or the work they do.
Investing in Malpractice Insurance (also called Professional Liability or Errors and Omissions Insurance) can help you manage the costs if you ever do face a suit. Malpractice Insurance covers the legal costs of defending yourself against a malpractice claim. Some policies even provide you with an attorney to try your case.
Rather than paying the $33,000+ to defend yourself from your pocket, your insurance policy would pick up the bill and allow you to go about your regularly scheduled business activities.