Monday, April 15, 2024

MONEY MATTERS : Professional indemnity insurance key for medical practitioners

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In India, the medical profession is highly esteemed, with doctors in high regard. However, doctors, like anyone else, are prone to making errors. These mistakes can have severe fallouts for both patients and doctors.

In such cases, doctors may face legal consequences, resulting in financial burdens and emotional stress. However, this can be avoided if doctors have comprehensive professional indemnity insurance. This type of insurance protects doctors from the financial repercussions of lawsuits and helps preserve their medical practice and reputation.

It is important to note that doctors never intend to harm their patients, whether financially or physically. Nevertheless, a single error, negligence, or omission can have significant consequences.Doctors can be responsible for patient losses, leading to legal complications and financial burdens.

This is where professional indemnity insurance plays a crucial role. It provides doctors the necessary safety net to cope with the financial burdens of legal proceedings and compensations. It ensures that their medical practice and reputation remain intact.

Protects Reputation :

The importance of professional indemnity insurance lies in its ability to offer financial protection against claims arising from professional errors, omissions, or negligence. In India, professional indemnity insurance is legally required for certain professions, including doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, and insurance brokers.

This coverage helps professionals manage legal expenses and protects their reputations. Medical and legal practitioners are strongly advised to have this insurance due to the nature of their work.The increasing number of professional liability claims further emphasizes the importance of having such coverage.Sector-specific requirements may exist, and consulting relevant authorities and insurance providers can provide more specific information.

Recent years have witnessed a 400% increase in medical negligence cases in India, as reported by the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. This highlights the pressing need for professional indemnity insurance in the healthcare industry, particularly for doctors who are increasingly subjected to lawsuits due to errors and negligence. Without appropriate insurance coverage, doctors can face significant financial strain and damage to their reputation.

Professional indemnity insurance serves as a boon for healthcare professionals, safeguarding their reputation and financial future. Lawsuits arising from negligence can cause substantial harm, and professional indemnity insurance provides doctors with the necessary resources to defend themselves and protect their reputations.

To illustrate the importance of professional indemnity insurance, let’s consider an example. In a case, a doctor recommended surgery to remove gallbladder stones for a patient who unfortunately passed away due to post-surgery complications.The patient’s family filed a complaint alleging medical negligence. The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) found the doctor negligent, but the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) overturned this decision based on available evidence.

However, the Supreme Court, upon reviewing the case, found that the NCDRC had made an error by not considering crucial evidence. As a result, the hospital and the doctor were ordered to compensate the complainants with a sum of Rs 25 lakh. This case highlights the potential financial consequences doctors can face without proper insurance coverage.

Important for out-of-court settlements :

The significance of professional indemnity insurance also extends to out-of-court settlements. Such settlements are essential for mitigating potential damage to a professional’s reputation and are often more efficient in terms of time and cost compared to lengthy court proceedings.Professional indemnity insurance covers settlement costs, enabling professionals to effectively resolve disputes while safeguarding their reputation, maintaining client relationships, and potentially reducing claims.

In conclusion, professional indemnity insurance is an indispensable safeguard for doctors, providing vital protection for both themselves and their medical practices. By offering coverage against potential legal consequences arising from medical negligence cases, professional indemnity insurance becomes a crucial necessity for every healthcare professional. Investing in professional indemnity insurance can be viewed as a wise investment, ensuring the preservation of personal and professional well-being in the face of potential financial ruin.

(The writer, Yogesh Khemani, is the co-founder & CSO of CoverYou)

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