To understand the magnitude of professional liability claims, here are a few examples:
In 2001, Sophia Savage underwent a hysterectomy at the Three Rivers Medical Center in Louisa, Kentucky. During the surgery, a surgical sponge was left inside her abdomen, but the presence of the sponge wasn't revealed until 2005, when Savage had an x-ray after she reported pain in her stomach. She had to undergo additional surgery to remove the sponge. During this procedure it was discovered that the sponge was lodged in her lower intestine. The doctors had to remove a 49 centimeter section of her small intestine in order to remove the sponge. Due to this she suffered from lingering abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation as well as bouts of anxiety and depression. She and her husband Darrell file a surgical mistake lawsuit against the Three Rivers Medical Center.
$2,500,000 million in damages. Her husband, Darrell, was awarded additional $500,000 for loss of consortium.
In 2012, a patient's lymph nodes were removed during what turned out to be an unnecessary lumpectomy procedure. The hospital's pathology department mishandled test results somewhere in the paperwork process, and the records of a healthy patient became mixed up with those of a woman who was in the advanced stages of breast cancer. At this same hospital, in 2009, an unnecessary mastectomy was performed on a healthy woman.
In 2007, Victoria Little underwent surgery for blocked arteries. The procedure left her a paraplegic. Improper surgical techniques used by the surgeons during the procedure resulted in Little's blood pressure dropping for a prolonged period-of-time, which deprived her organs and tissue of adequate blood supply. The mistake on the part of the surgeons resulted in a spinal cord injury and constant pain.
3,500,000 - $1.3 million for non-economic damages, $2 million for future medical bills and more than $200,000 as compensation for prior medical treatment.
Medical professional liability insurance, sometimes known as medical malpractice insurance, is one type of professional liability insurance which protects physicians and other licensed health care professionals (e.g., dentist, nurse) from liability associated with wrongful practices resulting in bodily injury, medical expenses and property damage, as well as the cost of defending lawsuits related to such claims.
A medical professional liability insurance policy covers bodily injury or property damage as well as liability for personal injury such as mental anguish. The complexity involved in discovering negligence results in a higher percentage of premium dollars going toward defense and cost containment expenses. Medical liability insurers spend substantial funds investigating and defending claims where there is an adverse patient outcome not resulting from negligence.
There are two basic types of malpractice insurance—occurrence or claims-made. Many insurers write on a claims-made form basis where a policy in effect at the time a claim is reported responds for the loss, while the policy remains in force and during any applicable extended reporting period. The policy that was more popular in earlier times is occurrence-made which covers a loss that “occurs” during the policy period, regardless of when the claim was made, and even after the policy has been canceled.
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